Vancouver Island University’s men’s golf team secured a position for the national championship in Oshawa, Ontario earlier this month after finishing third in PacWest standings. The four-day event began Mon., and coach Kevin Oates was clear about the team’s goal: bring a medal back to VIU.

“Our goal is to try to get a medal,” Oates says. “That’s what our whole year has been focused on, and we’re preparing for that…so it’s exciting to know that if these guys play well enough they could bring that back to VIU.”

Still, Oates explains that his expectations of the team are simply to perform the best they can. “My expectations are always that the players do the best that they can. As long as we play to the utmost of our ability, the numbers will fall where they lie.”

The team was able to gain a spot in Nationals following the final regular-season tournament in Chilliwack on Oct. 6–7. By finishing third in the tournament, consistent with their other finishes this season, the Mariners were able to lock up the third and final position.

The team of: Morgan Deckscheimer, Kristian Hrabowych, Micheal Hrabowych, Matt Haddad, and Kyler Bougeault took home the PacWest bronze medal as a result.

After not playing their best round on the Sat., the M’s played exceptional the next day by shooting the low score of the tournament on the Sunday. Unfortunately, Kalli Gordon finished 4th on the season, one position away from qualifying for the individual female category of Nationals.

The men had just a week’s time to prepare for the championship tournament, opting for light practice during the week before leaving and a round at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville to keep the team in “tournament mode.”

Since the team did not qualify for Nationals last year, the returning players are eager for the opportunity to showcase their talent and represent VIU. The Mariners finished in fourth place, and much like Gordon’s scenario this year, left them a spot away from qualifying.

“For three of the five guys, they are looking at [Nationals] as a missed opportunity to not have gone last year,” Oates says. “They are looking at it as a redemption to prove that they belong there, which [is a motivation] we went with this year to try and get back to Nationals, so they’re preparing for it that way.

“For my two new players they’re just trying to take it all in and will try to act like it’s every other event, to try not to put too much extra pressure on themselves.”

Personally, Oates says he is happy to be making the trip to Nationals, an achievement he says is aimed for every season. Still, the goal will be to secure a medal.

“This will be my seventh or eighth trip to Nationals, so we’re still looking for that illusive medal that we haven’t got yet,” Oates says.

Competition will be tough in Oshawa, and conference champions Camosun College, Lethbridge College, and Humber College from Toronto are likely to be the strongest opponents. Visit <www.mariners.> on Friday following Nationals to find out how VIU finished in the tournament.

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