HAWK GOLF LOOKS FOR BIG THINGS FOR 2013-14 SEASON
Sept. 19, 2013
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - There is a lot of excitement surrounding the University of Maryland Eastern Shore golf team this fall as the squad features a blend of promising newcomers and experienced upper classmen. The four-year old program enters its first season as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and has several competitive tournaments on the schedule this fall.
"We are going to be much better," said Head Coach Marshall Cropper. "On paper, I can see us being at least six or seven strokes better than last year. It is all about concentration and if we can carry that into the season, we are going to be pretty good."
This year's golf roster is the largest in program history. It features eleven student-athletes with nine returners and two newcomers. The team also brings back three of its top five golfers from a year ago.
The 2013-14 team will be led by senior captain Michael Veverka (Brunswick, Md.). Veverka was the top UMES golfer last year and looks to bring the success he enjoyed as a junior into his game this year. Last season, Veverka shot a team-best average of 77 across 18 rounds. He shot five of the team's best rounds in 2012-13 and was one of two golfers to participate in all eight events.
His success as a junior saw him nearly qualify for All-American honors. He concluded the season with his best showing of the year, where he shot two-over-par to finish fifth overall at the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championships in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
"He is a committed young man," said Cropper. "Mike is much more focused this year and I think that focus will lead to good things. I hope his commitment will carry on to the rest of the team."
Following Veverka's lead will be senior Paul Cecil (Severn, Md.). Cecil shot the first hole-in-one in UMES golf history last season at the Rehobeth Beach Invitational. Cecil averaged a score of 81 across 17 rounds. Senior Christopher Toney (La Plata, Md.) is back for the maroon and grey after holding an average of 83. He shot the lowest round for UMES last fall with a two-under score of 70 at the Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Invitational.
Cropper is expecting big things out a few other returners in sophomore Jon Seward (Ft. Washington, Md.) and junior Michael Ferguson (Vorhees, N.J.). Seward participated in four tournaments for UMES last year with increased improvement in each tournament he participated in. Ferguson is looking to transfer the momentum he picked up at the end of last season into his play this year. He shot an even-par score of 70 at the PGA National Minority Championships to post the second lowest round for UMES of the year.
The Hawks are hopeful that a pair of freshman will step in and contribute as well. Rookies Keun Park (Woodstock, Md.) and Norman Blanco (New Orleans, La.) each played well this preseason and are on the original travel roster for the opening tournaments. They will be competing for the final spots in the UMES top-5. Cropper expects several more freshmen to join the roster before the end of the season as well.
UMES will add depth to the team with senior Sedrick Bailey (Baltimore, Md.), junior Kevin Odell (Snow Hill, Md.), junior Richard Fleming (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and sophomore Bryan Martin (Baltimore, Md.) The four student-athletes were all members of the team last year and could play a vital role in the Hawk's success this season.
The team appears to be very driven this year and Cropper believes it will be the key to the Hawks' success. UMES returns its top golfer from last season and has a handful of others to compliment him in the top-5. As for the schedule, Cropper has put together an exciting agenda with action against some of the stiffest opponents on the East Coast.
The true test will be at the final two positions of the top-5. The increased depth on the roster has given Cropper the ability to select the best golfers at the time. With such a mixture of players, the competition within the team has increased and will surely bring out positive results for all involved.
"Everyone is excited," said Cropper. "We have a lot of promising golfers and we expect good things out of them. There is a good mixture of young players and returners. The bottom line is we need to force ourselves to compete. If we can do that, we will be fine. It will translate into success."
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