Season in Review: Men’s golf
The competitive sports season may have now come to an end, but the sweet taste of victory remains fresh for men’s golf. Despite many obstacles — ranging from a reduced number of players on campus to an abbreviated season — the Panthers staged an impressive come-from-behind win in the NESCAC championship to claim the school’s ninth-ever title.
Only five rostered men’s golf players returned to campus for the spring semester, despite the official roster numbering in the double digits.
Captains Jordan Bessalel ’21 and John Mikus ’21 were greeted with a talented — but young and inexperienced — squad: Hogan Beazley ’23, who had only experienced five days of collegiate competition before the long layoff due to Covid-19; Derek Ban ’24, a first year from Rancho Cucamonga, California; and Colin McCaigue ’24, a first year out of Brookline, New Hampshire.
With the squad of five meaning he would have no available substitutes, coach Bill Beaney recruited Porter Bowman ’21.5 as a walk-on.
The team made its first competitive appearance in nearly 18 months at the Hamilton College shootout, finishing 13 strokes off the pace in third place but still beating both Williams and Amherst. Colin McCaigue’s debut was undoubtedly the highlight as he led the team with a three over par.
The team began rounding into form in their next match at Williams College, finishing second out of five teams behind the hosts. McCaigue once again led the Panthers in scoring with Bessalel and Mikus not far behind.
Just two weeks into the season, the Panthers were given the daunting task of competing against the NESCAC’s best at the conference championship. A two-day, 36 hole competition, the competition would test the skill and composure of the competing teams. Bowman was called upon to join the starting lineup for the contest after impressing in practice.
The Panthers made a strong start, placing third on the opening day, but they still had plenty of work to do in the second round as they finished three strokes back on Tufts and two behind Trinity. Hungry for victory, the Panthers hunted down the two teams in front of them and claimed victory on the second day behind huge performances from Beazley, Bessalel, and Mikus. The second round victory proved to be decisive as Middlebury claimed its ninth NESCAC title, stealing it from the clutches of Tufts and Trinity by a single stroke.
The Panthers then concluded their season with an individual shootout against Hamilton College, sweeping the top four spots with Beazley taking home the individual medalist honors. His award was just one of many for the team, as Bessalel claimed the NESCAC Player of the Year award, McCaigue took rookie of the year distinction, Beaney won the coach of the year award, and Mikus and Beazley were both attributed All-NESCAC honors.
Bessalel becomes Middlebury’s fifth Player of the Year since 2010, while McCaigue followed in Bessalel’s footsteps by becoming the sixth Panther to be deemed rookie of the year. Coach Bill Beaney’s coach of the year award was his fifth ever and his first since his three year streak of winning it ended in 2017.
“It was a special season… the boys went out there, held their composure, and gave it their all,” Beaney said.
The Panthers are expected to begin the next campaign sometime in the fall with the return of the autumn season, while they will look to defend their title next spring.
Editor’s Note: Porter Bowman ’21.5 is the Senior Opinion Editor for The Campus.