Men’s golf ties for 11th at Hawkeye Invitational

Huskies draw even with Illinois State in Iowa competition

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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 Editor

DeKALB — Men’s golf earned their highest finish of the spring competition schedule to date after tying with Illinois State University for 11th place Sunday. NIU hit 28-over-par at the Hawkeye Invitational hosted by the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.

NIU’s finish allows them to rebound from their last-place finish at last weekend’s Aggie Invitational in Bryan, Texas. The Huskies were ranked 12th out of a 12-team pool during competition on April 9 and 10.

“We showed some improvement in our scoring this week in windy conditions up to 25 miles per hour,” head coach John Carlson said in an NIU Athletics news release. “We converted 36 birdies this weekend, twice as many as a week ago at Texas A&M. We were also second in the tournament in par-five scoring.”

Round 1: T-10th, +10

Graduate student Michael Cascino and senior Reece Nilsen led the way for NIU in the opening nine holes of tournament play. Cascino notched birdies on the third and fourth holes before hitting a bogey on the fifth to leave him one-under-par through the first half of the first round. Nilsen hit even-par through nine holes with his pair of birdies offsetting a pair of bogeys.

Nilsen remained consistent for the rest of the first round to finish as NIU’s best performer of the round at even-par. Freshman Ben Sluzas shaved a stroke off his par score from the round’s midway point to achieve a first round stroke count of one-over. A pair of bogeys and a double bogey by Cascino resulted in a higher score of three-over.

NIU finished the first round in a battle for 10th place with the University of Cincinnati. Both teams shared a score of 10-over-par after Friday’s opening round. The initial individual leaderboard rankings saw Nilsen caught in a seven-way tie for 12th place.

Round 2: T-9th, +18

The Huskies opened the second round in stronger fashion than their performance in the first nine holes of the first round. Cascinto and Sluzas each hit one-under par while Nilsen retained his even-par score.

Sluzas emerged as NIU’s top team performer by the second round’s conclusion. The freshman out of Lockport netted a stroke count of even-par. Nilsen came close behind at one-over-par. Continued struggles on hole 13 contributed to Cascino’s second round score of three-over par. The transfer student from Butler University had a net stroke count of four-over within the final nine holes in each of the first two rounds.

NIU found itself in another tie to close play Friday, this time with James Madison University. Both schools hit 18-over-par Friday to earn ninth place. Nilsen climbed up the individual leaderboard and was joined by Sluzas as the two were engaged in a four-way tie for 11th place.

Round 3, T-11th, +28

Nilsen held firm at even-par after the first half of the third round while all other team competitors were at one-over-par at the halfway mark. Struggles made their biggest impact on the final nine holes of the competition

Nilsen, Sluzas, Cascino and junior Zach Place added a combined 13 strokes to their scores. Senior Tommy Dunsire was the only team competitor to show improvement in the final nine holes to finish the third round one-under-par.

The Huskies ended the third round with a net par score of 10-over-par after accounting for the four best scores from team competitors. This performance caused NIU to drop two spots on the leaderboard to finish neck-and-neck with Illinois State University in 11th place out of 14 teams.

The added strokes from Nilsen and Sluzas in the final round caused the two to fall to tied-27th and tied-32nd on the individual leaderboard respectively. Nilsen was NIU’s top performer at the event at five-over-par.

Senior Luke DeHaven competed as an individual at the tournament, finishing in four-way split of 46th place alongside teammate Dunsire. Both golfers hit 10-over-par between both days of competition.

The 28th-ranked University of Kansas earned first place honors with a team score of 12-under-par. The Jayhawks finished two strokes ahead of the tournament host and runner-up Iowa. Kansas senior Harry Hillier, the 98th-ranked player in the nation, took home individual honors after hitting eight-under-par at the two-day event.

Looking ahead

NIU has one event remaining on its spring schedule before the Mid-American Conference Championships begin play on April 29.

The Huskies make another road trip for their next outing at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate hosted by Ohio State University. Competition will be held Saturday and Sunday at Columbus Country Club in Columbus, Ohio.