Even though golf is more of an individual sport, the Youngstown State University men’s golf team has set the bar high for the whole group.
With the team being able to develop more of its young talent during the offseason, the Penguins feel they have enough complexity and experience to be a top team in the Horizon League.
“Coming into the spring, we have to be a top two or three team in the conference,” head coach Tony Joy said.
The Penguins finished sixth in the Horizon League last season. The team feels that the younger talent mixed with the depth of the roster this season can push them to the next level.
“We learned a lot last year being a young team, but now we know what to do to win,” Mark Olbrych, senior golfer and business major, said. “We all showed signs we could play last semester.”
With YSU having three of the top seven players in the conference — sophomore Brandon Pluchinsky (fourth), sophomore Bill Gaffney (sixth) and junior Bryan Yeo (seventh) — it is easy to talk about the talent of the team.
Gaffney finished 11th in the conference during the first half of the year. He says he also sees the potential in the team.
“We have the most depth of all the teams in the Horizon League, and if we all start playing like we should, there aren’t very many teams that can beat us,” Gaffney said. “I feel like we can really do some damage in the Horizon League this year.”
Joy has taken notice to all the extra time and effort this team has put in to become one of the best teams in the conference.
“It seems to me they have put in a lot more effort to come in, hit balls and practice on their own,” he said.
The team has been able to hone their skill a bit more during the offseason. The Penguins were able to take advantage of the Watson and Tressel Training Site, which was more available to them during the offseason and during the winter months.
Senior Trevor Jones has high expectations for his team. He stated that there is no reason the team can’t win a Horizon League Championship.
“Honestly, I think we have the best team since I have been here,” Jones said. “We will be very competitive all spring.”
Jones added that he couldn’t guarantee the championship, but that is the goal. Not only does he have high hopes for the team, but he said he also feels he can be an Academic All-American. Jones was on the Horizon League Honor Roll last year.
“I just want to go out and give everything I got, and try and just play as well as I can,” Jones said.
Joy said he would be disappointed if his team didn’t play well.
“Expectations are to win the conference championship,” Joy said.
With Olbrych and Jones wrapping up their careers at YSU, they look to have the perfect ending: a Horizon League Championship.
“Winning Conference and going to Regional would cap off my career here very well,” Olbrych said.
The Penguins opened play in Augusta, Ga. at the Forest Hills Collegiate Invitational against a variety of schools. YSU finished sixth out of the seven teams in the competition.
Yeo led the way for the Penguins in a tie for tenth place. Yeo began with an 82 in the first round. He then improved by 13 strokes in the second round, finishing with a total of 151.
The Penguins will look to move forward this season as they compete in Utah at the Jackrabbit Invitational on Tuesday.