Joe Loehnis has been one of the best players on the Vikings golf team all season long. As a freshman he was one of the top scorers in the Northern Division of the MWC. Loehnis added to his golf resume last weekend winning the 2003 Midwest Conference Championship in a playoff over Mark Foster from Knox College.Loehnis became the second Viking to win individual honors in the last two years. Last year Jeff Henderson tied for the title in a rain shortened tournament. This year, Loehnis needed extra holes to defeat Foster. Loehnis shot a two over par 74 in the first round and was in second place behind first round leader Chris Enlund of Knox, who shot 73. Loehnis shot 74 the next day as well for a two round total of 148, and a tie for the top spot with Foster. The two players would go to a playoff to decide the champion.
Both players birdied the first hole, and went on to the second playoff hole. Loehnis repeated his birdie, and walked away the 2003 Champion. Loehnis’ victory this year, and Henderson’s victory last year was the first time since 1948-1949 when the Vikings have had two individual champions in a row. Carl Lauman and Don Strutz were the two Vikings to complete that task in the 1940s.
The Vikings took second place overall in the team portion of the tournament, matching their second place finish from a year ago. The Vikings finished seven strokes behind MWC golf powerhouse Knox. The Prairie Fire shot a 306 as a team in the first round, four shots ahead of LU. In the second round, the Vikings tried to make up the ground, but the Prairie Fire was just too strong, they shot 303 in the final round to the Viking’s 306. Knox won its ninth championship in ten years in the MWC, only losing to Monmouth last season.
The Vikings had many other top individual performers at this year’s MWC Tournament. Andy Link shot a 155, and tied for tenth place. Jeff Henderson, last year’s champion was a stroke behind at 156, and was tied for twelfth. Matt Orth was one behind Henderson, as he finished alone in fourteenth with a 157. Rounding out the Vikings scoring was Marcus Specks, who tied for twentieth place with a 161. Loehnis and Link were both members of the All-MWC team for having top ten finishes.
The Vikings wrapped up their golf season this past week, but look for them to come out near the top again next year. The Vikings are losing a huge senior leader in Travis Orth. Orth has recruited many of the current players on the Vikings team, and has actually recruited himself out of a job. Orth has contributed many things to this team, and while Loehnis, Link and Henderson may be the top scorers on this team, Orth is the MVP. He will be missed next year, but the Vikings with the players he recruited will again be one of the top teams in the MWC. Loehnis and Link are only freshmen this year, along with Travis Orth’s brother Matt. Jeff Henderson is only a sophomore. Look for good things for this team in the future; they can only get better from here.