Lawrence golf seizes first MWC title in 56 years to cap season

Alexander Weck

“Any given team can win on any given day” is the classic anecdote given by coaches throughout the world in attempts to be motivational. Most of the time, the statement is a load of bullhonkey. In the past few years, that “given day” has been just out of reach for the LU men’s golf team. In fact, the last time it did show up, Harry S. Truman was entering his second term in office.
After missing the title by a few mere strokes in the past few years, the team finally ended Lawrence’s 56-year championship drought. “The given day” was the second of two in the Midwest Conference Championship tournament last weekend. With the Vikings one stroke behind Monmouth College, the team knew it would take a solid effort to bring home the bacon.
LU was paired with the other frontrunners, Monmouth and St. Norbert. As the leaders, they began the course last. Junior Joe Loehnis recalls that, as the day went on, “Monmouth and St. Norbert began to fade away, so we knew it was down to us and [perennial MWC power] Knox College.”
It would end up being Loehnis coming through with a clutch chip to secure the 2-stroke victory over surging Knox. On the 16th hole of the second round and without any idea what the score was, Loehnis put a 5-iron shot from 185 yards out, just past the green and into the rough. “From there he proceeded to pull the pin, pick the correct line, and bury the biscuit,” said teammate Matt Orth. After finishing with the round strongly, Loehnis sealed the deal, and the rest is history.
The Vikings had met all eight of their conference foes at some point this season and had lost to Knox, Carroll, Beloit, and St. Norbert. With that, the tournament was really open for the taking. Having played strongly down the stretch, winning their last two tournaments, LU simply seized the day at conference.
Individually, Loehnis led the way with a fifth-place overall finish. He was followed by juniors — and partners in crime – Markus Specks and Andy Link, who came in sixth and ninth, respectively.
The team must now say farewell to two seniors who have been cornerstone members of the team over the past four years. Blake Nelson and Jeff Henderson, both reliable team top-five finishers, will leave a hole in the lineup. It will be up to returners and incoming recruits to fill this gap and hold on to the conference trophy held off-campus for so long.