By Carlos Toro
After a slow start at the MAAC Championships, which ran from April 22-24, the Broncs golf team fought their way to a third-place finish.
Their biggest highlight, aside from the team’s accomplishment, was senior Parker Mann earning All-MAAC honors by finishing tied for ninth.
Mann was in top 10 contention throughout the third day, but he ran into bunker trouble on the 18th hole. He recovered well enough to finish with a score of 73 on the last day. Mann is the first Bronc to earn All-MAAC honors since James Buttermark placed seventh in 2011.
“It was awesome to watch Parker [Mann] hole out his last shot out of the bunker to finish inside the top 10,” Head Coach Jason Barry said. “That is a moment that I will never forget.”
After starting the tournament in eighth place out of nine teams after day one, the Broncs’ team effort resulted in the second-best team score on days two and three.
Barry said that he knew his team was capable of playing well in the tournament, which was held on the Magnolia Golf Course in Orlando, Florida. This was the Broncs’ best finish in the MAAC Championship since 2010.
“We are very happy with the way we ended the season,” Barry said. “The guys hung in there after a rough start to the spring.”
Rider earned a team score of 902 across the three days. That included the final leg of the tournament, when the team scored 293, tied for the best team round in the program’s history at the MAAC Championships.
The Broncs, led by junior Parker Mann, who won All-MAAC honors by finishing tied for ninth, started with a combined score of 310, eight shots from Monmouth’s lead after the first round.
Barry said that despite starting out in eighth place, the team was able to focus on the task at hand.
“We weren’t concerned with what place we were in after round one,” Barry said. “We were more concerned with the strokes we had to make up to put ourselves back in the tournament.”
Junior Aaron Simone, who tied for 18th place after a score of 229, said that the team “knew it had a chance to win the tournament.”
Two other Broncs almost finished with All-MAAC honors, but were just a couple of shots away from placing in the top 10. Senior Joe Hughes placed 12th (226) with rounds of 75-78-73 with senior Tom Yarson scoring a 227, tying for 13th after rounds of 79-73-75.
Junior Sam DiGaetano also shot 229 to finish tied for 18th place. Simone had rounds of 80-75-74 with DiGaetano scoring rounds of 79-77-73.
“We didn’t get anything out of our rounds on day one and had to card two higher numbers,” said Barry. “Our guys always play with a lot of heart and they played solid the last two rounds.”
The team championship was won by Siena after playing a sudden-death hole against Monmouth. Both schools finished with a combined score of 890 for the tournament, 12 shots ahead of Rider. Nicholas Dilio from Saint Peter’s won the individual championship by five shots with a combined score of 212, 12 shots ahead of Mann in the 45-player field.
Mann said that the third-place finish was a “great way to end the season.”
“Everyone played well, fought hard, stayed positive, and played their game, which allowed us to shoot up the leaderboard and make a run on the last day,” Mann said. “It was truly a team effort.”
The team also had three golfers recognized with MAAC All-Academic honors. Seniors Brian Dempster and Hughes as well as DiGaetano have grade point averages of 3.20 or higher. The Broncs will return three letter-winners for next year, where the team aims to be a contender in the conference.
“This program has come a long way, and we are looking to continue to improve on that heading into next year,” Barry said.
Simone said that he and the team feel that Rider is going to be a serious contender in the conference next season.
“We are pleased with the way we finished,” Simone said. “We believe we are going to continue to get better.”