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Men’s golf looks to repeat last year’s success

BY BEN SCHUFF | SEPTEMBER 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men’s golf team should start getting some answers this weekend.

The Hawkeyes will tee off in their first tournament of the fall season on Sept. 11 at the Gopher Invitational in Wayzata, Minn.

While the 14-team field includes three other Big Ten schools — host Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Penn State — Iowa will face solid competition from five other teams that finished the 2011 spring season ranked in the top 50: Arkansas (No. 17), Kent State (No. 27), Liberty (No. 35), North Texas (No. 44), and Notre Dame (No. 48).

Iowa head coach Mark Hankins’ team ended last year ranked No. 9 in the country by golfstat.com.

But following the graduation of what Hankins deemed the “top two players in the history of the program” in Vince India and Brad Hopfinger, it remains to be seen what this team is capable of accomplishing.

“I don’t know what to expect for the team [this weekend],” senior Barrett Kelpin said.
Joining Kelpin at Spring Hill Golf Course will be seniors Chris Brant and Brad George, sophomore Steven Ihm, and redshirt freshman Ian Vandersee.

This will be the fourth-straight year the Hawkeyes will play in the Gopher Invitational, and the fourth time Kelpin and Brant will participate in the in the tournament. The two are arguably the most experienced golfers on this year’s team and will be leaders for the Black and Gold.

Brant said Spring Hill is one of his favorite courses to play.

“It’s one of the best-conditioned courses I’ve ever played,” he said. “It’s very well designed. It’s a shot-makers golf course.”

Two golfers will make their Hawkeye débuts. Ihm is a junior-college transfer from Indian Hills Community College (Ottumwa, Iowa) playing in his first Division-I tournament.

Vandersee will also represent the Black and Gold for the first time after redshirting last year.

Given some of the new faces, Hankins said, he hopes for a top-five finish for the team and hopes all his players are aiming for top-20 individual finishes.

“We’ll find out [how good we are], we don’t know. We’ve only been playing against ourselves,” Hankins said. “After our first competition, it will give us a little better indicator of how we’re playing and how good we might be.”

Search for assistant coach underway

Hankins said before the team’s practice on Wednesday that the program is in the early stages of finding a new assistant coach.

Former Iowa assistant Tyler Stith left Iowa last week to take the same position at Minnesota.

Hankins said it’s still unclear whether a temporary or permanent replacement will be hired this year.

“This time of year, you have a lot of people who are in jobs that they don’t want to leave,” the fifth-year coach said. “We may go temporary until the break in December, then put an all-out search on and bring guys in for interviews.”


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