Feb. 20, 2003
In voting conducted by league head coaches, the Toledo men's team and Kent State women's golf team have been tabbed to win the 2003 MAC Championship. Toledo received all 10 first place votes while KSU earned the nod from all nine of the women's coaches.
The Rockets men's squad returns three players key to last year's MAC Championship team - Brad Heaven, Sean McTeman and David Jones. All three finished in the Top 10 last year at the league tournament held at the Medallion Club in Westerville, Ohio. McTeman finished second after a playoff loss to medalist Eric Phipps of Miami, Heaven was eighth and Jones tied for ninth. In November, Heaven sharpened his game with an eighth place finish at the Western Refining Collegiate All-American Classic in El Paso. He followed that outing with a 27th place finish at the New Zealand Open.
The Golden Flashes women's team also has three solid returnees from their team that ran away with the league championship trophy by 66 strokes over runner-up Ohio. MAC Women's Golfer of the Year and 2002 MAC Championship medalist Marina Gillen, 2002 MAC Freshman of the Year and fourth place finisher Gabby Wedding, and 11th place finisher Veronique Drouin all are back for the Golden Flashes. Gillen also tied for 13th at last year's NCAA Championship, the highest top individual not from a team.
Following Toledo in the men's poll were 2. Miami; 3. Kent State; 4. Eastern Michigan; 5. Ohio; 6. Bowling Green; 7. Ball State; 8. Marshall; 9. Akron; 10. Northern Illinois.
On the women's side, Kent State was followed by 2. Toledo; 3. Western Michigan; t-4. Eastern Michigan; t-4. Ohio; 6. Bowling Green; 7. Ball State; 8. Northern Illinois; 9. Marshall.
Expected to challenge the Toledo team, the RedHawks return 2002 MAC medalist Eric Phipps and junior Mark Weghorst, who finished 18th at last year's MAC Championship. Kent State has all five of its MAC Championship competitors returning from last year. Three of them finished in the top 14 - Peter Lohmega (fifth), Peter Laws (sixth) and Chris Miller (t-14th. Eastern Michigan returns its top golfer from last year in Brad Pemberton, a 16th place finisher at the MAC Championships. As well, the Eagles' incoming freshman class is rated as the 15th best by golfstats.com.
Ohio has two top-20 MAC Championship placewinners returning - Jeff Chadwell (fourth) and Aaron Bickle (t-19th). The Bobcats were runner-up last year to Toledo's championship squad. Bowling Green returns its top three finishers, including Adam Balls, who tied for ninth. Ball State brings back two of its four golfers who finished in the league's top 20 last year - Brian Lassiter (11th) and Kenny Cook (t-14th). Marshall also returns its top finisher in the MAC Championship with Burke Spensky, who tied for 16th.
Akron has all five of its MAC Championship participants back, led by Chris Jamieson, who tied for 19th. Northern Illinois has five freshman on its roster but the Huskies claimed a third place finish in the fall at the Pepsi Challenge in Springfield, Mo.
In the women's nine-team field, Toledo and Western Michigan are tabbed as close to challenging the Golden Flashes. The Rockets have four of their five MAC Championship entrants from last year back. Included among that group are two top-20 finishers in Sara Boogard (t-6th) and Breane Hall (10th).
Western Michigan had its best team placement last year with a fifth place finish. Erica Bieniek (t-11th) and Megan Dunnigan (t-16th) led last year's team. In the fall, Bieniek captured medalist honors at the Huskie Classic and Ball State Cardinal Classic. Eastern Michigan and Ohio were picked in a tie for fourth place in the preseason poll. The Bobcats, last year's MAC Champion runner-up, return four players who can claim a top-20 finish last year at Walden Pond - Diane Rubin (9th), Cari Mozingo (t-13th), Ashley McCall (t-13th) and Aimee Fronczak (20th). The Eagles' top player returning is Kristina Reel, an 18th place finisher in 2002.
Bowling Green has four of its five top golfers returning. Among the Falcons leading this year's squad are Jenny Schnipke, who tied for sixth last year, and Shelly Binzel, who tied for 16th. Ball State also returns four of its five that played at the MAC Championship in 2002. Last year's top finisher Lisa Robertson (t-24th) was just three strokes shy of a top-20 placement. Northern Illinois has a roster laced with eight freshmen and two of its top five from last year back. Janelle Warrick (32nd) and Amanda Mapley (34th) return for the Huskies. Marshall is in its first year sponsoring women's golf and has a roster of five freshman. In the fall competition, Sheena Caran finished fifth at the Lady Highlander Invitational.
The women's championship is scheduled for April 25-27 at Walden Pond in Hamilton, Ohio. The men's title chase will conclude May 1-3 at Sugar Grove, Ill., at Rich Harvest Farms.