NIU places fourth at Rich Harvest

Huskies held lead after day one of home tournament, freshman gets top 10 finish


Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star

Senior Tommy Dunrise practices at Rich Harvest Farms on Aug. 28. Dunrise finished the first round tied with freshman teammate Ben Sluzas for first after shooting 67.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — The NIU men’s golf team earned a fourth place finish, scoring four-under par as they hosted the Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate in Sugar Grove.

NIU jumped ahead early on Saturday. Senior Tommy Dunsire and freshman Ben Sluzas led the Huskies’ efforts as both scored five-under par after 18 holes. Dunsire and Sluzas were tied for first place on the individual leaderboard. Dunsire recorded a streak of four consecutive birdies on holes 10 through 13. The Huskies finished the first day at the top of the leaderboard, posting nine-under par. 

By the end of the second day of the tournament, NIU was jumped in the rankings by the University of Missouri, the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University. After the leaderboard shuffle, the Huskies were tied for fourth place with the University of Nebraska at four-under par.

NIU remained steady in its performance on Monday, holding on to its par count through the back 18 of the tournament. Their efforts were aided by two birdie streaks from Sluzas and junior Zach Place, who each had three consecutive birdies in the front nine on the final round. In the end, the Huskies were able to shed Nebraska to take fourth place for themselves to end the event.

The Purdue Boilermakers left Rich Harvest Farms as tournament champions after snatching the title from Missouri in the final holes. Purdue sophomore Herman Wibe Sekne took home first place individual honors. 

In the second collegiate tournament of his career, Sluzas improved upon his tied-30th performance at the Badger Invitational. The Lockport native hit off five-under par, ending the event in a four-way tie for sixth.

“Sluzas is an integral part of this team,” Carlson said. “He’s talented. He’s mature beyond his years. His talents are something that the rest of the players are feeding off of.”

During the course of the three-day event, NIU also saw major improvements from graduate student Michael Cascino. Since finishing tied for 75th in last week’s Badger Invitational, Cascino was able to shave 16 strokes off his par count. The transfer from Butler University was the best out of five individual competitors for the Huskies at the Intercollegiate, finishing in a seven-way tie for 37th.

“(Cascino) had something to prove this week to himself,” Carlson said. “We have extreme confidence in him and trust in his abilities. I was very happy to see his consistency off the tee this week.”

Junior Zach Place excelled after being promoted to the lineup for the tournament, assuming Cascino’s previous role as the fifth golfer on the lineup. Place was the second highest performer on the leaderboard for NIU, having hit two-under par and tying for 18th with five other golfers.

Despite falling to fourth place after starting the tournament atop the leaderboard, Carlson commended the performance of their competitors.

“We had a field comprised of two top-25 teams with NCAA Championship-caliber teams across the board,” Carlson said. “I don’t attribute it to us really falling in the rankings. Give a lot of credit to the coaches that came here and competed this week.”

The Huskies will look to continue improving as they head to Purdue University next week to compete in the Boilermaker Invitational. The tournament is scheduled to begin on Monday at Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Ind.