Inexperience didn’t stop these linksters

By Anthony Leva

The 1991 NIU men’s golf campaign is history and for the third year in a row, head coach Jack Pheanis and his Huskie linksters are winners of the Mid-Continent Conference Championship.

To the casual observer, the accomplishments of the two-time coach of the year and his crew might have seemed easy—almost expected. However, the team that won conference titles in 1989 and 1990 was definitely not the same squad that won this year.

Four all-conference golfers graduated from the 1990 club and were replaced in ‘91 with three freshman: hardly the ingredients for a championship team.

Pheanis’ strong sense of optimism and his “never say die” work ethic made all the difference.

“I’m very high on this team,” Pheanis said as the Huskies opened the fall season at the Big Ten Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa. His high hopes didn’t prevent an inexperienced team from finishing 14th-out-of-17 schools with a 925 stroke total, compared to 878 tallied by the tournament champion Ohio State.

Pheanis, with optimism still intact and three freshman clearly oriented with big time college golf, headed next to the conference championships at the Oak Club of Genoa, Illinois.

The Huskies, utilizing their home course advantage and overcoming a four stroke deficit after 36 holes, won the conference title and made Pheanis look like a genius for the third straight time.

“I could sense that they wouldn’t be denied,” Pheanis said. “I’ve won three titles and I can say I’ve enjoyed this one the most because of the young and inexperienced team we brought into competition. I could just see it in their eyes that they were very determined to win.”

Complacency may have played a part in NIU’s last meet, the Redbird Invitational in Normal as the Huskies finished third out of 16 teams with a 908 stroke total. Nevertheless, it was a solid performance that was significant of Pheanis’ inexperienced overachievers coming into their own.

“That was a tournament we could’ve won,” Pheanis said. “The course favored the game of Western (Illinois, the tournament winners) a little more than ours, but the players gained a strong feeling for each other and the team. Our captain Mark Voeller had another great year as did (freshman Derek) Schoonhoven who made the conference team. Our lowest average was around 75 by (Jason) Samuelian. I feel this will be a great team for years to come.”

If past years performances are any indication, the “inexperienced” 1991 Mid-Con Champions will have plenty of celebrating to do in the future.