After advancing to match play as the seventh seed in the SEC Championships this past weekend, the Vanderbilt women’s golf team fell to second-ranked Alabama 3-2.
The top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play advanced to match play in the conference championship’s new format this year.
After the first round of stroke play, Vanderbilt was third in the standings with an eight-over 296. Louise Yu led the team with a two-under 70, and Virginia Green carded a two-over 74.
Abbey Carlson hit a hole-in-one, her first in competition, on the 150-yard second hole.
The second round of stroke play did not go as well for the Commodores, who ended the day with an 18-over 306.
Yu and Green, the team leaders after the first 18 holes, carded an 80 and 81, respectively. Morgan Baxendale shot an even-par 72, and Carlson bounced back from a first-round 78 to shoot a 3-over 75.
Courtney Zeng shot a 79 in the second round after a first-round 76.
Vanderbilt stormed back in the third round to clinch a spot in match play. Carlson shot an even-par 72, and Baxendale and Yu scored 73s on the day.
After stroke play, Vanderbilt sat at 899, 35 shots over par.
In match play, Vanderbilt faced Alabama, the top-ranked team in the nation.
Alabama’s Kristen Gillman defeated Virginia Green 6&4, which means she was ahead by six holes when there were only four holes left to play.
Louise Yu earned a point for Vanderbilt after winning the last hole to beat Cheyenne Knight 1 up. The match was tight the entire time, and no player was ever up by more than one hole.
Courtney Zeng lost to Lauren Stephenson 5&3. Stephenson is currently the 6th-ranked amateur golfer in the world.
Morgan Baxendale earned Vanderbilt’s second victory with a 2&1 win over Lakareber Abe. Baxendale was behind or tied for the entire front nine, but pulled away over the back nine.
Carlson lost a tough match to Angelica Moresco. Carlson never led, but fought her way back multiple times to cut Moresco’s lead to one or two strokes before Moresco won the seventeenth hole to clinch the win for Alabama.
Vanderbilt is expected to make NCAA regionals when the field is announced on Wednesday. The regionals are May 7-9 at locations all over the country.
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When any student submits his or her application to Vanderbilt, chances are that bragging rights between their friends about which school has the best sports teams is not high on their list of priorities. When late March rolls around, most students will be concerned with finals, not the Final Four.
While some of Vanderbilt’s other sports, such as Tennis and Bowling, may be making successful campaigns, some of the most fun memories in college can come from cheering on major teams getting national attention. Vanderbilt has never been an athletic powerhouse or even a perennial contender, but the potential of next year’s Men’s Basketball team has sparked great excitement for everyone around campus.
If the university decides to back the program with the financial support it needs, students may someday dream of coming to Vanderbilt not just for the opportunities in the classroom, but also to root for a team that has the chance to cut down the nets at the end of March.
It’s impossible to expect the school to evolve into a powerhouse overnight, but next year provides an incredible chance for Vanderbilt to take a step in the right direction. If the university chooses to invest more strategically, we could reach a point in which Vanderbilt is competing for titles rather than competing in the SportsCenter Not Top 10. The Southeastern Conference lacks any depth in basketball powerhouses, with the Kentucky Wildcats being the only team consistently competing late into March. Additionally, Vanderbilt’s central location in a fun city like Nashville offers great promise in terms of recruiting.
While there will always be conservative spenders who believe that big investments can wait, it’s clear that Commodore Basketball is about to be ready for primetime. While they may have just come off of a tough season, head coach Bryce Drew has brought in a few incoming players who could change everything. For the first time in a long time, Vanderbilt is bringing in more than one High School Senior marked as “Five Stars,” meaning they are the most elite in the nation. Simi Shittu, Darius Garland, and potentially Romeo Langford are all top players in their respective states, and make up three of the top 15 spots on ESPN’s recruiting rankings.
In a sport in which a few key players are all that is needed to make a team great, next season looks very promising. If subsequent recruiting classes classes see these commits succeed and see the university fund internal improvements and demonstrate that it is dedicated to the team, Vanderbilt Basketball could turn over a new leaf. The Commodores are finally being presented with a real chance to be a national success, and the university needs to do its part and invest in a winning team.
Another factor pointing to Vanderbilt’s potential success on the court is how similar it is to other successful basketball programs. Villanova, who just dominated Michigan in the most recent NCAA Basketball championship game, has just under 7,000 students. Schools even smaller than Vanderbilt, such as Butler and Xavier, also are consistently competitors. Furthermore, while it is often a struggle for especially academically rigorous universities to pull in recruits, schools like Duke show that this is hardly an obstacle for the nation’s top basketball stars.
Other schools are taking this initiative with even less potential for success. For example, Northwestern University just underwent a total renovation of their arena after making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2017. The only difference between Vanderbilt and these schools: they’re willing to spend the money.
On a larger scale, American interest in basketball is rising at an incredible rate. As parents worry about the lasting effects of concussions on their children, youth football is fading slowly as the basketball fan base grows and grows. The gameday experience of college basketball is unparalleled by any other, and Vanderbilt’s famous “Memorial Magic” is especially electrifying. That being said, any sports fan in Memorial Gym immediately feels the antiquity of their surroundings, and the arena desperately needs new seats, an updated concourse and modern suites that recruits are taken to as a showcase of the school’s basketball prowess.
If even a fraction of the financial attention Vanderbilt constantly gives to its academic institutions and housing facilities was redirected to this project, these amenities could make fans feel less like they are at a high school gym built in the 1980s and still hold on to the historic atmosphere that makes Memorial Gym such a great place to watch basketball. Instead of having the program’s official website boast about how old its facilities are (even putting itself on a “Top 25” list that is downright embarrassing), Vanderbilt needs to put the money in so that someday that website can boast a Final Four berth, or even a championship.
The best part about investing in new amenities for our basketball program is the huge scope of its potential effects. Not only will the Men’s Basketball players and prospective recruits be ecstatic, these same improvements will be enjoyed by the Women’s Basketball team. The same resources dedicated to making the Men’s Basketball program would help make the Women’s program a championship contender under coach Stephanie White.
Most importantly, Vanderbilt is constantly promoting its plans to renovate the university under the name “FutureVU,” all with the goal of creating a deeper sense of community on campus. What better way to do that than to give students, faculty, and alumni the rallying point of a basketball team that could make runs to the Final Four?
It’s time for Vanderbilt to put its money where its mouth is.
After all, if the choice is between just one more opulent Yale-like dormitory guaranteeing 22-year-olds still have to live on campus and a championship-level basketball team, I think most of us know what we would choose.
Bryan Hollis is a first-year in the College of Arts and Science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SEC Women’s Golf Championships begins this Wednesday in Birmingham, and the Commodores have some crucial momentum after winning the Brickyard Collegiate last week.
“I think anytime you’ve got momentum on your side, it just gives you a chance to go and play really well,” said coach Greg Allen.
Vanderbilt, which is ranked No. 25 in nation, took home both team and individual honors, as freshman Morgan Baxendale placed first out of 78 golfers in the field. Baxendale shot a 3-under 213 over three rounds and won SEC Freshman of the Week honors for her performance.
“That girl doesn’t slow down, doesn’t stop,” said Allen of Baxendale. “And she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around in my 20 years of coaching.”
Sophomore Abbey Carlson and freshman Louise Yu tied for fourth place at 3-over 219.
Even with an impressive showing at the Brickyard, Allen thinks this team still has room to get better and reach their potential.
Carlson leads the team with a stroke average of 73.04 and Baxendale is close behind with an average of 73.33. Louise Yu’s average of 73.52 and Courtney Zeng’s 73.54 average are also remarkable.
The sophomore has improved the most in the past year, taking almost a stroke and a half off her average.
“Her ball striking is unbelievable,” Allen said of Carlson. “But I would say the biggest thing for Abbey is that her chipping has improved.”
The SEC Championships have a different format this year. In addition to the traditional 54 holes of stroke play, the conference championship will now feature a second round in which the top eight teams from stroke play compete in match play for up to three additional rounds.
Allen said, “I’m excited about the possibility of match play. It mirrors the national championship now, and it mirrors what the guys do.”
While the team has not played in match play in any tournaments this season, Allen emphasized that they play matches in practice, and match play is very common on the summer amateur tours.
Greystone Golf and Country Club hosts the tournament on its Legacy course.
Carlson, who played the course at last year’s SEC Championships, said, “it’s a course that all around tests your game, but you’re rewarded for good shots.”
The competition will be tough, as Arkansas and Alabama are both top-five teams and South Carolina, Florida, and Auburn are also fellow top-25 teams.
This team’s chemistry could play a factor in keeping the Commodores loose in a competitive and pressure-packed tournament.
“This is probably one of the best teams I’ve had in terms of chemistry in a really long time,” said Allen, who has coached 11 seasons at Vanderbilt after leading Arizona’s squad for seven years.
Carlson said, “Our team just all around gels really well. Last tournament, we all got ice cream after a round and just sat and talked in the van for 20 minutes.”
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When the desire to win is strong, baseball players will do whatever it takes to see a “W” next to their name.
For the Vanderbilt Commodores, “whatever it takes” includes some trickery and some Sandlot-style strategy.
In the fifth inning of Vanderbilt’s second seven-inning game of a doubleheader against the Ole Miss Rebels, Ole Miss’ Nick Fortes doubled to score two runs and tie the game for the Rebels. The Commodores were set to face the next batter with two runners in scoring position and no one out.
That’s when Vanderbilt took after its namesake and hustled the Rebels.
After receiving the cutoff throw from the outfield, third baseman Austin Martin gave first baseman Julian Infante a look that only Infante could recognize.
The trick was on. With pitcher Reid Schaller pulled off the mound next to Infante, Martin quickly tagged the baserunner at third base when he briefly stepped off the bag.
Vanderbilt had executed the hidden ball trick.
.@VandyBaseball successfully pulled a hidden ball trick. At the NCAA level.
— Vandy Hustler Sports (@vuhustlersports) April 15, 2018
The Rebels, having been successfully swindled out of a baserunner, would not threaten for the rest of the inning. However, they took the lead in the next inning, and it took a three-run double from catcher Ty Duvall to give the Commodores an 8-7 win to seal a huge series win over a top-five team.
Whether it’s a hidden ball trick or just a clutch hit, the attitude from the Commodores is the same: never say die.
“This group is really tough,” Duvall said. “We work extremely hard and I feel we’re as prepared as anyone that steps on the field. I try to remind the guys of that. No one does what we do, no one works as hard as we do. When you get out there, just do your thing because you’re more ready than anyone.”
That fifth inning was one of many instances on Sunday in which the game, and the series, could have gotten away from the Commodores. In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the Commodores were down to their final outs multiple times. In the seventh inning, Martin hit a two-out infield single off the glove of the second baseman that plated the tying run. In the first extra inning that followed, they were down 7-6 when Ethan Paul launched a towering solo shot to tie it. Then, with the bases loaded, an Ole Miss wild pitch brought the winning run across.
Vanderbilt caught breaks. But the age-old idiom remains true: you have to be good to be lucky.
“They outhit us both games I think,” coach Tim Corbin said. “In some ways, you have to, and the hits have to be timely. Really, that’s what it boils down to. You get a timely hit, the two home runs were certainly timely and then Duvall’s hit was timely with the bases loaded and that’s really what you need at the end of the day is just to come up and get big hits and we did. That was great to see.”
The difference between any other team in the country and a Corbin-coached team is effort. Vanderbilt may not win every game, but they will give 110% in each and every one. There has never been a single Commodore that has quit on a game. If they have, it was the last time they were on the field in a Vanderbilt uniform.
However, that doesn’t mean that Vanderbilt can dominate any game. They can win ugly, and in the case of the 2018 Commodores, they have mastered the art of the ugly win. It’s why they’re sitting in the Top 25 with two straight SEC series wins under their belt.
“We’re not always pretty, we’re not always the most cosmetic team in college baseball, but at the same time, you just wanted to see that,” Corbin said. “You wanted to see the passion, grit and the ability to take a punch and then come back. There were a lot of tough moments in the first game, a lot of tough moments in that second game too. But, they withstood the punches and they got back on their feet and answered the bell.”
After an 11-3 beatdown at the hands of the Rebels on Friday night, some might have counted out the Commodores in the series against their toughest opponent since facing the top-ranked Florida Gators. With two shortened games on the schedule on Sunday thanks to poor weather on Saturday, Vanderbilt had plenty of time to put Friday behind them and just believe in themselves.
The Rebels came out hard in both games and gave the Commodores everything they had. But for every punch Ole Miss gave, Vanderbilt hit back twice as hard. Moving forward, that attitude will come in handy as the games get more important.
“This was a tough series against a tough team,” Martin said. “The way that we were able to bounce back after every inning. They just kept coming at us and I was really proud of the team just being able to come back and get these two wins today.”
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VSG bill calls for university to eliminate $675 price disparity between residential college halls and other living spaces
The University will charge a residential college experience fee of $337.50 each semester for residents of Warren and Moore and E. Bronson Ingram college halls upon Board of Trustees approval, according to the 2018-2019 Guide to Housing Assignment Process. The fee is intended to fund community programming, which could include the cost of speakers, food, setup and marketing materials.
The Vanderbilt Student Government Senate passed a bill on April 4 that urged University administration to reconsider the extra costs involved with being a member of the residential colleges since, “ a differential cost among certain residence halls may lead some students to choose not to live there,” according to the bill.
“Extravagant amounts of money are spent on programs and activities that aren’t well attended,” said Moore Senator Tam Wheat at the VSG Senate session. “At the least, I think that there could be a reduction in these costs.”
Dean of Students Mark Bandas said that the residential housing fee will help the university actualize the residential college experience by funding programming, which will make the community model on the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons available to students for all four years.
“We believe that students and parents will see, in a very tangible way, how that cost is providing a tremendous value to the residential experience,” said Bandas.
At a town hall in February, Senior Director of Housing Operations Jim Kramka said that Vanderbilt was committed to keeping a flat rate for housing costs in order to be inclusive to all financial situations on campus.
“Vanderbilt is committed to a unified housing regiment,” said Kramka. “You pay the same. You don’t want people to have to not live somewhere because they can’t afford it. We have seen that in the past.”
According to Bandas, students were informed throughout the housing process about the fee and the fee information was provided when in the housing application, which students had to sign. Bandas said that the colleges were very popular with the student body and around five students applied for each available residential college spot.
Additionally, students will see a change to the meal plan offerings in the coming year. Instead of a 12 meals per week plan, students living in the residential colleges will be required to participate in the 14 Meal Plan for residential colleges. Plans will cost the same regardless of whether they’re residential or not, but residential meal plans include access to residential meal events.
“Meal plan rates received a 4.5% increase to accommodate a number of increased costs including food inflation and significant wage increases to our service level employees,” said Executive Director of Campus Dining Dan ter Kuile.
These rising costs will continue to be covered by different aid programs such as Experience Vanderbilt and Financial Aid.
“For students who are receiving Opportunity Vanderbilt (need-based) funding, that additional fee will be added into each student’s cost of attendance just as any other tuition and fee charge and will be used to determine eligibility for need-based financial aid,” Bandas said.
Carsen Smith was a contestant on this year’s Jeopardy! College Championship this past Thursday, competing alongside other college students for 100,000 dollars.
Each year, Jeopardy! holds the tournament and allows 15 students to compete on the show, filming 5 episodes with 3 students each, with the top scorers advancing into later rounds. The episodes from this season air Apr. 9-20.
Smith, a biological sciences, Russian studies and Cinema & Media Arts major in the School of Arts & Sciences, learned about the opportunity to tryout for the show online from another Vanderbilt student last year.
“I looked over his shoulder and fed him some answers and realized I actually knew a lot of the trivia,” Smith said. “He told me that it was his dream to be on the show and that the online test is the way to get on.”
Jeopardy! was not Smith’s first time participating in trivia tournaments, as she served as captain of her high school’s trivia team. After taking the test online in October, she was selected for an in-person audition in Chicago in November. Originally scheduled to be filmed in January, the show’s taping was pushed back until spring break after host Alex Trebek underwent surgery.
On the show, Carsen finished second in her round with an ending total of $2,000, but it is unlikely she will advance to the next round.
After the show aired, Smith experienced an unexpected amount of attention over social media, she said.
“It’s more attention than I ever imagined I’d get. On the night the show aired, I ended up with 900 new Facebook and Instagram requests,” she said. “I feel like Kanye. If Kanye were a silly blonde white girl on one episode of a game show.”
While the comments she’s received range from marriage proposals to accusations of being too “smug” on the show, Smith isn’t taking the online attention too seriously, even noting that the “mean tweets” are her favorite part of the experience.
Another highlight for Smith from her chance to appear on Jeopardy! is the entrance into the world of jeopardy alumni.
“Being a contestant on Jeopardy! is like joining a really exclusive club,” she said. “I’ve already had multiple former contestants reach out to me to grab lunch or coffee. All of us are in a Facebook group together so now I have this awesome network of a few thousand very smart, interesting people who have all had this wild experience.”
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Believe it or not, the Predators are not the only team in Nashville fighting to make history in the playoffs.
The Vanderbilt Commodores Women’s Bowling team captured their second national title in team history and fourth in school history with a thrilling come-from-behind win over McKendree University. The Commodores won two straight games, including a decisive game seven, to win the match.
In Vanderbilt’s storied athletic history, just three varsity teams have shared the honor of taking home the most coveted achievement in collegiate sports: a national championship.
Most recently, the 2015 Women’s Tennis Team defeated UCLA to win its program’s one and only championship. Likewise, a year prior, the 2014 Baseball team beat Virginia to join the club. The third and final program, the Vanderbilt Women’s Bowling team, took home Vanderbilt’s first national championship over a decade ago, defeating the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks in 2007.
While the baseball and women’s tennis teams have experienced their fair share of recent success, the women’s bowling team remains at the helm: in just fourteen years as a varsity team, the ‘Dores have appeared in three national championships.
Today, at the Tropicana Lanes in Richmond Heights, Missouri, Vanderbilt made their fourth title appearance, facing the defending champions from McKendree University. Once again, they were posed with the opportunity to make history and become the only Vanderbilt team with two national championships.
Vanderbilt entered the day looking to ride the hot hand of Junior Maria Bulanova. Bulanova, born and raised in Moscow, Russia, is an All-American who propelled the Commodores to the title game with a clutch strike against Sam Houston State.
McKendree entered the day as favorites, but Vanderbilt proved their worth early in this match.
In the first few frames of game one, McKendree struggled. The Bearcats (not to be confused with the Commodores’ last opponent, the “Bearkats” of Sam Houston State) seemed to experience small lapses in focus and Vanderbilt quickly took advantage. It took just 5 frames for Vanderbilt to find themselves ahead of McKendree by a total of 23 pins.
As an underdog in a best of seven series, it was crucial that Vanderbilt won game one. The result was nothing less, as the Commodores finished the first game strong: they ended with four straight strikes in rounds seven, eight, nine, and ten, winning the first game by twenty pins.
The second game got off to an exciting start, as each team began with two strikes. Vanderbilt’s Katie Stark released her ball and appeared to bowl a third, but before the ball knocked over all ten pins, she lost balance. Stark slipped and fell; her hand landed in front of the line, leading to a foul. The crowd had gone silent as if she had been injured, while McKendree proceeded to capitalize with yet another strike.
The Bearcats continued to dominate the second game; after finding their stroke, they dominated. They won by well over thirty pins to knot the series up at one game a piece.
Game three was nothing like the first two, as the score was dead even through the first three frames. The fourth frame was Vanderbilt’s break, but the neck-and-neck competition continued. Ultimately, McKendree spared the tenth frame, forcing Vanderbilt’s Maria Bulanova to spare an impossible three pins just to tie. They didn’t get the outcome they had hoped, and McKendree took game three, leaving the total score at 2-1 in favor of the bearcats.
Vanderbilt dominated the fourth game to tie it up at 2-2, but of course, the nature of this back-and-forth match remained. McKendree blew out the Commodores in the following game, fueled by six straight strikes in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth frames.
Heading into game six, McKendree was up 3-2. They needed just one more game to win the National Championship. Did anyone really expect the Commodores to go down without a fight?
Today, we learned that the Commodores bowling team has that clutch gene the Predators could’ve used in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. They gave McKendree their best effort and was able to send this to game seven with a tight win in the sixth game.
Now, two of the most exciting words to a sports fan: game seven. These words may invoke pressure within most athletes, making them increasingly nervous, but the Commodores remained unfazed. Her foul may have began the downwards trajectory for Vanderbilt early on, but Stark managed to tally her tenth strike of the day and propelled a huge rally for the Commodores. Everything seemed to go right for them in game seven, as they strung together five straight strikes and proceeded to win the national championship.
Today, the Commodores bowling team accomplished something no Vanderbilt team has done before. After being put in a due-or-die situation in game six, they managed to avoid elimination, winning two straight games. They beat the Bearkats, then the Bearcats, to secure their second national championship, the only program on campus to do so.
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After winning two major tournaments and several individual honors, the Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team comes home this weekend to play the Mason Rudolph Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin in what could become a triumph parade of sorts in their last regular season outing.
As of the publication of this article, Vanderbilt Men’s golf ranks 4th in the nation according to the NCAA, only behind Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma St. With the exception of California, it’s worth noting that all of the schools in the top 10 are in the Southeast because Vanderbilt has faced most of them already this season.
Whether you can’t make the drive out to Franklin this weekend or simply want more golf, fear not: Vanderbilt is likely to get a nearby Regional location during the D1 Men’s Golf Selection Show (May 2nd, 5:30 PM on the Golf Channel.) But until then, here’s a quick recap of the season so far and a primer of what to watch this weekend.
“The Alligator Bit My Hand Off!”
The Spring season started out with some off-course excitement when a committee of professionals associated with college golf named Will Gordon, Theo Humphrey, and Patrick Martin to the Ben Hogan Award Watch List, the first step in a process that evaluates a player’s performance from June-May after their success in the fall season. (The list of ten semifinalists will be announced on April 11.)
Individual honors aside, Vanderbilt had work to do as a team going in the SunTrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Florida. After jumping to the lead on the first day of competition, the Commodores held on to a -18 team victory, which was 8 strokes better than second-place Florida, the tournament host. Gordon and John Augustein tied for fourth, with Humphrey finishing 8th overall—suprising, considering that Humphrey is the consensus star of the Vanderbilt squad this year, but still not far behind.
Like most spring breakers who visit the Mexican seaside resort town, the Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team hoped that the losses that happened in Cabo would stay in Cabo.
To be fair, the Querencia Cabo Intercollegiate tournament was practically an early season simulation for later rounds of the NCAA Tournament with all the top programs in attendance. In the proud Vanderbilt tradition of playing difficult non-conference games early in the season (seriously, compare the schedules of Baseball, Golf, and both Men’s and Women’s Basketball and you’ll see it), the Commodores were southbound for a real test. Vanderbilt finished 11th as a team after the first day of competition with Humphrey tied for third place. They were still 11th after the following day, though Humphrey moved up to second place but still trailed the leaders by three shots.
Humphrey would finish third, but the Vanderbilt team would improve their own fortunes to place eigth in a tournament that went down to the wire between Cal Berkeley and Oklahoma St. with the Cowboys winning it. Cooper Sears, the redshirt freshman playing in the contested sixth slot, wavered with the high scores of 80 and 81 over the first two days, respectively, but rallied on Sunday to post a 76. Gordon and Augustein both contributed scores of 69 in the final round, which was critical in the Commodores’ rally.
Though echoing the team’s disappointment, Limbaugh said he was impressed by the team’s maturity when it came to making up for lost ground. He also memorably said in an interview with VUCommodores.com “We have learned that our good is pretty good and our average has not been good enough. The biggest challenge for any team is to continue to own who they are and their results.”
(No More) Statesboro Blues
After Cabo, the Commodores would fly northward to the Forrest Heights CC in Statesboro, GA for the Schenkle Invitational. Vanderbilt finished third in the 49-year-old tournament last season, but forecasts were optimistic for an even more favorable finish given the Vanderbilt squad was without their top player last year, All-American Matthias Schwab, who was off winning awards at the Palmer Cup in England at the time. Coach Limbaugh said outright the Statesboro tournament was a team favorite when he said, “We love this event because of how the community wraps their arms around us and makes it so special for all of us.”
That mutual affinity shined ever so brightly that weekend for the “golden golfers.” Vanderbilt held a commanding nine-shot team lead over second-place Kentucky after the first round of play. Vanderbilt clearly fed off of the individual lead of Humphrey. Surprisingly, the senior, whose chipping is normally the cornerstone of his game, struggled from 90 feet-and-in throughout the tournament. Ultimately, he was able to retain his composure enough to hold on to a sweet score of 66.
Not much changed during the second and final round of play that Sunday, as the Commodores cruised to victory as a team with an eight-shot, 29-under par victory over tournament hosts Georgia Southern.
Freshman Harrison Ott, who is the Commodore’s sixth man (a position that competes individually and does not contribute to the team score) at the moment, shot a respectable 75 on the final day after struggling on Saturday. Vanderbilt’s top three finishers, who all were in the tournament’s top 20, were Augenstein (T-17th, -2), Gordon (T-5, -9) and the individual tournament champion Humphrey with an impressive, -29. The individual race was far closer than Vanderbilt’s team landslide, with Humphrey barely beating out contenders from NC State and Georgia Southern by two strokes. Nevertheless, the senior would be named co-SEC Player of the Week for his performance.
After what seemed to be a concise, critical look at the team’s mid-season makeup in the post-Cabo conference, Coach Limbaugh was unafraid to sing the player’s well-earned praises after Statesboro.
“I am so proud of this group,” Limbaugh said, “and how they responded to the challenge this week. I want the guys to enjoy this because they earned it.”
In the manner of a consummate coach’s coach, Limbaugh soon turned his focus forward, adding “The challenge is for us to continue to have a group mentality so we can have a group identity and I want us to embrace that.”
Identity Follows Mentality.
The phrase doesn’t exactly affix itself to a bumper sticker like Form Follows Function, but it’ll do for the rest of the season. But what does it mean for the golfers? Gordon thinks that every member of this particular squad, even more so than in years past, is called on to contribute consistently good outings.
“Mattias (Schwab) isn’t on the team anymore, but I think this year’s team can still be excellent. Theo’s been great to look up to,” Gordon added.
After helping build up a program, Humphrey was able to look at the matter from the atmospheric perspective of a senior, saying, “Sure, every team is going to be a little different, but I think this team is really similar to the one we had last year, in a positive way.”
On leadership, Humphrey added that, “As a senior, I feel that I have to be more careful about what I say because people are listening or, I should say, I hope they are. Because I know that’s what I wish I had done more of as a freshman—I mean I listened a lot, but coming in I thought I had a lot more figured out than I actually did.”
Limbaugh, who is in his sixth season as Vanderbilt’s head coach after a stint as an assistant at Alabama, unsurprisingly also emphasized this season as the continuation of a longer process.
“If you’re recruiting the right guys, they’re pretty internally motivated,” he said.
Although not necessarily done with intent and certainly biased towards the magnetic poles of amateur golf, the geographical diversity of the Men’s Golf team is fairly representative of Vanderbilt’s student body as a whole. Gordon hails from Davidson, NC, while Humphrey, a Phil Mickleson fan, is from Connecticut (like many Vanderbilt students, he says ‘New York City suburbs’ to save time.)
But getting back to the point, former basketball coach Kevin Stallings was a master recruiter, and yet Vanderbilt struggled to make runs in the NCAA tournament for fifteen years. While Limbaugh will talk about a “day-to-day mentality” like most coaches, it’s evident he actually believes in it.
Take this quote from Limbaugh after Vanderbilt struggled on Friday in Cabo: “Tomorrow is important for us because it affects where we want to go as a team.”
Sports are, or at least should be, about the actions of the players on the field, which can lead to some pretty formulaic press conferences. But sometimes, a quote recorded by a camera can speak volumes about the inner workings of a program playing in front of it, which in the case of the most successful ones, is a carefully cultivated environment.
The quote seems incredibly vague at first glance, and that’s because it is, but there lies the importance. Where the team is going doesn’t refer to the rest of the Cabo weekend, or even the rest of the season, but to this grander, multi-year strategy of achievement –whatever that might mean on a group or individual level—that everyone on the team seems to be articulating in their own words.
The Commodores’ success on the links suggests that Limbaugh doesn’t give himself, or his staff, enough credit when it comes to the value that they add to each day in that “day-to-day” approach, especially when one looks at them in the context of years.
Limbaugh, alongside Vice Chancellor David Williams, has presided over the construction of a new state-of-the-art clubhouse for both the men’s and women’s golf programs, which puts both Vanderbilt and the Legends course on the map of amateur golf. Additionally, Vanderbilt has scored sposnorships from major golf brands like Nike, Bridgestone and PXG, though players are granted a degree of leeway when selecting what goes into their golf bags.
A key piece to the chemistry puzzle came this off-season when Limbaugh named Gator Todd (yes, that might be the best golf name ever) as assistant coach. Todd, who was an Alabama golfer during Limbaugh’s tenure there and coached on the competitive courses of Wisconsin with Marquette University, has been a fine addition to Vanderbilt’s coaching tree for his golf know-how as well as sharing the experience of golfing under Limbaugh. Todd stepped in to fill the position left vacant following Dusty Smith’s departure for the head coaching job at Mississippi State.
Run Run Rudolph
The Mason Rudolph Championship will take place this weekend with the matches lasting all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The tournament, which bears the name of a legendary golf coach who worked with Vanderbilt players from 1992-2011, will take place at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, TN, which is about 30 minutes away from campus if you take the highway.
Though there are storms in the forecast, skies should be clear enough to make for pleasant spring days with temperatures in the low 70s.
“We finished 3rd last year, and won the whole thing my freshman and sophomore years,” Humphrey said, “so it should be a good opportunity for the team to show what we’re truly capable of.”
The post Men’s Golf riding high going into Mason Rudolph Championship appeared first on Vanderbilt Hustler.
Looking to try something new this week? Peruse the events below and make a point to attend something outside of your comfort zone. For more offerings, check out Anchor Link.
What: The Story of I-40: Experiencing Past, Present and Future Nashville
When: Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Sarratt 216/220
Why: Associate Provost Ifeoma Nwankwo created this event to educate students about the history of African Americans in Nashville. Her initiative includes a bus tour that illustrates the story of Highway I-40 and showcases African American-owned businesses around Nashville through specialty foods. Register here.
Who: Vanderbilt Public Relations Society
What: Baseball vs. Ole Miss
When: Friday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Where: Hawkins Field
Why: Grab your Cracker Jacks and join us at Hawkins Field to watch Vanderbilt take on Ole Miss.
Who: Vanderbilt Athletics
What: Camp Hillel Shabbat
When: Friday, April 13 at 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Vanderbilt Hillel (Grins)
Why: Do you miss camp? Relive your middle school glory days at Hillel this Friday, April 13. Sing songs and swap camp memories over s’mores.
Services are at 5:30 p.m., and dinner is at 6:30 p.m.
Who: Vanderbilt Hillel
What: Pakistan Day 2018: Basant Mela
When: Saturday, April 14 at 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Wilson Lawn
Why: The theme of this year’s Pakistan Day is Basant Mela, a festival that commemorates the start of spring. Join the Pakistani Students Association for an afternoon of free food, t-shirts, henna tattoos, kite flying, raffle prizes and dance performances.
Who: Pakistani Students Association
What: CSA Carnival
When: Saturday, April 14 at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Alumni Lawn
Why: Carnival is a Caribbean festival for communities to come together to celebrate in colorful costumes, eat delicious foods, as well as dance to infectious island music. Join the Caribbean Students Association for great dancing, vivacious tunes and fun times.
Who: Caribbean Students Association
What: MESA Festival
When: Saturday, April 14 at 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: SLC Ballroom
Why: This year’s MESA fundraiser benefits those suffering from famine in Yemen. There will be festive performances, engaging speakers, cultural booths and delicious Mediterranean food. Funds raised will be donated to an organization supporting humanitarian efforts in Yemen.
Who: Middle Eastern Student Association
What: Vanderbilt’s Holi 2018 Celebration
When: Sunday, April 15 at 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Wyatt Lawn
Why: The South Asian Cultural Exchange and the Vanderbilt community celebrate Holi, the festival of color. Holi is a two-day Hindu spring festival, celebrated primarily in India and Nepal. There will be food, music and cultural events.
Who: Vanderbilt SACE
What: Kefi Makefest 2018
When: Friday, April 13 at 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Sarratt 361
Why: Kefi hosts a series of workshops that have art projects, fun activities and free Chick-fil-A and Noodles & Company dinner. There will be a comic-making presentation, a workshop by Professor Helen Shin, 3-D pen projects and more.
Who: Kefi Collective
What: Vanderbilt Gamecraft’s Game Night on Commons
When: Friday, April 13 at 8 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.
Where: Commons Dining Center
Why: Welcome the weekend by playing board games on Commons. Vanderbilt Gamecraft has a large variety of board games from all genres. Everyone is invited to come play.
Who: Vanderbilt Gamecraft
What: West End Blend Vol. 5 Release
When: Friday, April 13 at 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Where: 208 House
Why: The Vanderbilt Recording Studio is back again on a mission. This event is a free music show with free food and free pedestrian parking.
Who: Vanderbilt Recording Studio
What: Trip to Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Gallery
When: Saturday, April 14 at 10:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Sarratt Student Center (Main Entrance)
Why: Join Kefi for a free trip to Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Gallery to enjoy relaxing natural scenery and contemporary art. Shuttle and tickets included. Limited spots are available.
Who: Kefi Collective
What: 9th Annual Puppy Play Day
When: Sunday, April 15 at 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Alumni Lawn
Why: Puppy Play Day is VPAWS’ major event of the year. Dogs from local animal shelters are brought to campus for students to de-stress before finals. Also, VPAWS hopes to increase awareness about homeless animals in the local area. There will be food, musical performances and representatives from animal rescue organizations to talk to students about volunteer opportunities.
Who: Vanderbilt Protecting Animal Welfare Society (VPAWS)
What: VSW Presents: An Open Mic with Kush Thompson
When: Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Kissam MPR
Why: VSW hosts their final open mic of the year featuring artist Kush Thompson. There will be free food.
Who: Vanderbilt Spoken Word
What: Student Reading Series
When: Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Neely Auditorium
Why: Join VUT for a series of play readings done by Vanderbilt students.
Who: Vanderbilt University Theatre
What: Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
When: Friday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Where: Blair School of Music, Ingram Hall
Why: Vanderbilt Choirs are performing their interpretation of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. The work will be sung in multiple languages — English, German, French, Arabic — representing the universal appeal this work has held over diverse audiences for centuries. It will be performed with English supertitles.
Who: Vanderbilt Choirs
What: Voices of Praise 2018 Spring Concert
When: Saturday, April 14 at 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Benton Chapel
Why: VOP’s spring concert showcases what all five ministries have been planning for the semester. Come rejoice and worship, and cake will be available afterwards.
Who: Voices of Praise
What: Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra Spring Concert
When: Saturday, April 14 at 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Ingram Hall
Why: Come enjoy a wonderful afternoon of music with the Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra (VCO), the first and only student-run community orchestra at Vanderbilt. Themed “Music from Distant Lands,” VCO’s repertoire includes Symphony No. 5 “Reformation” by Felix Mendelssohn, Movement 3 of “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and “Star Wars” Suite for Orchestra by John Williams.
Who: Vanderbilt Commodore Orchestra
What: Vanderbilt University Orchestra Concerto Concert
When: Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m.
Where: Blair School of Music, Ingram Hall
Why: Enjoy a free concert featuring the winners of Vanderbilt’s annual concerto competition, accompanied by the orchestra.
Who: Vanderbilt University Orchestra
What: Harmonic Notion Spring Concert
When: Saturday, April 14 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Sarratt Cinema
Why: Join Harmonic Notion for their spring concert of a capella music featuring guest performances by Melanated A Cappella, VIDA and Vitality Dance Company.
Who: Harmonic Notion
Health & Wellness
What: Go Figure at the NEDA Walk
When: Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Where: Centennial Park Event Shelter
Why: Join Go Figure at the Nashville NEDA Walk for Eating Disorders. Students can register to join Vandy Go Figure’s team here.
Who: Go Figure
What: Beaman Park Nature Center Hike
When: Saturday, April 14 at 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Beaman State Park (Meet at Morgan Circle)
Why: RSVP soon to join the Nature Exploration Club on a hike at Beaman Park Nature Center. Be sure to bring some bars and water, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
Who: Nature Exploration Club
What: Vanderbilt BhangraDores Spring Clinic
When: Saturday, April 14 at 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Gym Dance Studio C
Why: Forget about finals for a little bit and come out to the BhangraDores’ spring clinic to learn some Bhangra and dance. No experience necessary.