With senior Lucas Trim and freshman Connor Daly leading the way, Villanova is just a shot out of the lead after Monday’s opening round of its Wildcat Invitational at White Manor Country Club in Willistown Township.
Trim of Tampa, Fla. and Daly of Bronxville, N.Y. each carded a 1-under 70 over the 7,055-yard, par-71 White Manor layout and are part of a six-way logjam tied for sixth to lead a balanced effort by the Wildcats as they posted a team total of 1-over 285. Delaware grabbed the lead with an even-par 284.
There are plenty of contenders for the team crown heading into Tuesday’s final round. Lehigh is another shot behind Villanova in third at 2-over 286. Defending Wildcat Invitational champion Cleveland State is another two shots behind Lehigh in fourth at 4-over 288 and nobody has to tell the Vikings, the highest rated team in the field at No. 144 by Golfstat, that they’re still in it after they rallied from eighth place after the first day to take the title a year ago.
Drexel and Fordham are tied for fifth at 5-over 289 and Navy is seventh at 291. Saint Joseph’s is tied for 11th at 14-over 298 along with Colgate in the 19-team field.
It wasn’t the most pleasant start to the day with a chilly rain and temperatures in the low 40s, but past Wildcat Invitationals have seen worse conditions.
Villanova is coming off a strong fall portion of its season during which the Wildcats competed in a couple of high-profile events and came up just short in the City 6 Championship, falling in a playoff to Temple at Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
I talked to Villanova junior Andy Butler, who was a member of Manheim Township’s 2012 PIAA Class AAA championship team, and coach Jim Wilkes in early February as they prepared for the spring campaign for a college spotlight feature for Tri-State Golfer. It appears in the spring edition of Tri-State Golfer, which will be showing up in pro shops and other golf outlets throughout the region later this week.
Butler backed up Trim and Daly with a 1-over 72 that has him tied for 12th. Zach Egermayer, a junior from Glen Rock, N.Y., was another shot back in a tie for 21st at 2-over 73. The Wildcats were able to toss a 3-over 74 by Will Byrne, a junior from McLean, Va., but got dependable scores from everybody in their lineup. Byrne is tied for 39th.
Three other Wildcats competed as individuals. Connor Downey, a freshman from Franklin, Tenn., is tied for 57th after a 76, Andrew Bowyer, a sophomore from Summit, N.J., is tied for 68th with a 77 and Andrew MacMillan, a junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., is tied for 95th after an 81.
Delaware was led by senior Marc Oliveri, a former Conestoga Valley standout, and Kieran Purcell, a junior from Jersey City, N.J. Oliveri and Purcell are two of the three players tied for third in the individual chase after they each carded a 2-under 69.
Also for the Blue Hens, Jack Gianniny, a junior from Pittsford, N.Y., is tied for 12th with a 1-over 72, Blaine Lafferty, a junior from Marlton, N.J., is tied for 39th with a 3-over 74 and Mark Benevento, a sophomore from Somers Point, N.J., is tied for 68th with a 6-over 77.
Delaware’s lead might be a little larger if the 2-under 70 carded by Bobby Diforio, a sophomore from White Plains, N.Y., counted, but Diforio is competing as an individual. He is in the large group tied for sixth. Also competing as an individual for the Blue Hens is freshman Jack Melville, who was one of the top players in District One at Upper Dublin and is tied for 77th with a 7-over 78.
Drexel was led by freshman Connor Schmidt, a member of the 2015 Peters Township team that finished a shot behind Radnor in tense duel for the PIAA Class AAA team championship who is also in the group tied for sixth at 2-under 70.
The Dragons also had three players in the group tied for 21st at 2-over 73. They are Adam Mistretta, a junior from Livermore, Calif., junior Aaron Fricke, a former Garden Spot standout, and sophomore Mike Cook, who starred at Conestoga. Yoseph Dance, a senior from Richmond, Va., added a 79 for Drexel and is tied for 81st.
At the top of the individual leaderboard are Cleveland State’s Patrick Luth, a senior from Medina, Oho, and Navy’s Thomas Fricke, a junior from Haymarket, Va., both of whom posted a 3-under 68. Joining Delaware’s Oliveri and Purcell a shot back in a tie for third at 2-under 69 is Lehigh’s Ryan Kelly, a freshman from Annapolis, Md.
A pair of Fordham players, Matt Schiller, a junior from Cincinnati, and Oscar Cabanas, a senior from Miami, round out the group of six players tied for sixth at 1-under 70.
Saint Joseph’s was led by the trio of senior Drew Taylor, a product of East Berlin, sophomore Ross Pilliod, a former Berks Catholic standout (and an occasional Stonewall looper last summer), and Michael O’Brien, a freshman from West Chester, Ohio, all three of whom are in the group tied for 39th at 3-over 74.
Pilliod is coming off a strong showing two weekends ago when he led St. Joe’s by finishing tied for 39th as the Hawks flew south to Florida for the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular.
Also for the Hawks, junior Tyler Sokolis, a Central Bucks West product, is tied for 57th with a 5-over 76 and freshman Richard Riva, a former Lancaster Catholic standout, is tied for 68th with a 77.
Competing as an individual for Navy was sophomore Paul Mauer, who led St. Joseph’s Prep to the 2014 PIAA Class AAA title (and who also made a couple of appearances in the Stonewall caddyshack last summer). Mauer carded a 6-over 76 and is tied for 57th.