MILWAUKEE, Wis. (naccsports.org) ---Concordia University Wisconsin will serve as host for the opening weekend of the 2018-19 NACC Men's Golf Championship this Sunday and Monday at the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin.
This weekend's play serves as the first two rounds of the NACC's 72-hole championship. The final 36 holes will be played in late April at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora, Illinois.
Teams will tee off beginning at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning with pairings determined by each team's 2017 NACC Championship finish. The top three teams from last year's championship - Aurora, Edgewood and Concordia Wisconsin - will go off in the opening flight. Marian, Wisconsin Lutheran and MSOE will follow in the second flight, while Benedictine, Lakeland and Dominican will make up the third and final flight. The teams will be flighted with the No. 1 individual player from each school teeing off first, followed by the No. 2 player, the No. 3s, No. 4s, etc.
Pairings for the second (Monday, 10:30 a.m.) will be made according to the results from the previous day.
Aurora enters this year's championship event as defending champion, stopping a run of three straight titles by Wisconsin Lutheran. Edgewood (2007, 2011, 2012, 2014) has claimed the most NACC men's golf titles with four, followed by three apiece by MSOE (2008, 2009, 2013) and Wisconsin Lutheran (2015, 2016, 2017) and two by Aurora (2010, 2018).
2017-18 Recap: Last season, Aurora scored an event-best 299 in the final round en route to the crown. The Spartans posted a 72-hole total of 1,230 to top Edgewood by nine strokes. Concordia Wisconsin's Sam Schlosser won medalist honors and earned the Roger Fleming Player of the Year award as he tallied an 11-over-par 200 (71-76-81-71) in the four-day championship to finish a stroke better than Aurora's John Torres (73-76-75-76).
Edgewood's Matthew Davidson tied for third overall with a 15-over-par 303 (75-76-76-76) and was the top rookie finisher, which earned him the NACC Freshman of the Year award.
Top Returners: The top 10 individuals plus ties following the final round of the championship in April will earn all-conference designation. Seven past All-NACC honorees are in this year's field, including the defending Roger Fleming Player of the Year (Schlosser) and medalist runner-up (Torres) and the past two NACC Freshmen of the Year (Davidson and teammate Dawson Hinz). In addition to Schlosser, Torres and Davidson, Wisconsin Lutheran's Damon Gnewikow (sixth), Hinz (seventh), Aurora's JT Hudson (eighth) and Concordia Wisconsin's Nate Benjamin (tie-ninth) all return. Hinz and Hudson also earned all-league recognition as freshman in 2017.
Fall 2018 Synopsis: Defending league champion Aurora holds the league's best scoring average at 304.7 strokes over 10 varsity rounds. Included in the average is a 10-under 278 - the best round ever by a NACC school - in the second round of the AU Double Gun on September 4.
The Spartans hold a total of four of the top 11 rounds in relation to par, a number exceeded only by Edgewood with five.
The Eagles, who have posted a stroke average of 318.3 over nine rounds, own the next-lowest rounds with 3-over-par efforts to open the MSOE Invitational and close the WLC Fall Invitational.
Wisconsin Lutheran has logged the most rounds this fall (14) and sits third with a 326.6 scoring average, while Concordia Wisconsin is fourth at 330.0. The Falcons have the fourth-best team round with a 5-over-par 365 on day two of the WLC Fall Classic.
MSOE (332.7), Marian (336.3), Lakeland (348.2), Dominican (355.8) and Benedictine (359.1) round out the list of team scoring averages.
Individually, Lakeland's Austin Hansen tops the list with a 73.2 average over six rounds, followed closely by Davidson at 73.8 over nine rounds.
Davidson is joined by three other Eagles in the top 10 - Jensen Peck (fourth, 76.1 strokes over nine rounds), Josh Hentrich (sixth, 76.4/7 rounds), and Jackson Eversoll (tie-seventh, 76.4/9 rounds).
Aurora has three players listed - Jake Buis (third, 75.8/5 rounds), Torres (fifth, 76.3/9 rounds) and Noah Hogue (tie-ninth, 76.6/9 rounds) - although Buis is not slated to compete this weekend.
Wisconsin Lutheran's Stephen Bukielski (tie-seventh, 76.4/9 rounds) and MSOE's Bryce Lindsley (tie-ninth, 76.6/9 rounds) round out the top 10.
Peck and Torres have the lowest rounds in relation to par in the NACC this fall. Peck fired a 4-under 71 at the MSOE Invitational to card the lowest aggregate score, while Torres posted a 4-under 72 at the Aurora Double Gun.
NACC golfers have posted a total of 22 rounds at or below par this fall, including 11 by Aurora golfers. Edgewood has five such rounds, while Lakeland has three, Concordia Wisconsin two and Wisconsin Lutheran one.
Aurora's Hudson and Lakeland's Hansen have the most of any individual with three apiece.