LEWISTON – Expectations are high for both Lewis-Clark State Golf teams as both are ranked coming into the 2023-24 season. With those expectations, second-year head coach Zach Anderson will have to juggle two rosters with only six combined returning players.
Both teams will be in action on Monday and Tuesday at the Oregon Tech Invitational.
“This year looks a lot different, the men started last year with nine players and we only return three this year. Six new faces, we have a total of nine again this year,” Anderson said. ”On the women’s side, three of the six are new this year. A lot of new surroundings for the newcomers and a lot of expectations as well.”
The No. 20 men will be without their sole representative in the 2023 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship as Jorgen Lie Viken graduated.
Juan Pablo Quisoboni from Bogotá, Colombia, is the only returning senior on the team. Junior Sondre Andresen from Larvik, Norway, and sophomore Bryden Brown from Moscow, Idaho, also return.
Quisoboni had a strong junior year, finishing in seventh in the CCC Championship tournament. Andresen saw his best result at the Multnomah Invitational where he finished 3-under par and took home a tie for third place. Brown had a strong freshman year that saw him shoot 2-over par at the LCSC Warrior Spring Invitational to finish in a tie for sixth. The Moscow native also improved in each of his three rounds at the CCC Championship tournament to finish in sixth.
The Warriors bring some experience on the men’s side with three transfer players. Junior Oscar Behle, a native of Hjarup, Sweden, played two years at Eastern Wyoming College. Behle averaged 76.5 strokes last season. Another junior, Alex Navarro from Valencia, Spain, joins the Warriors from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Sophomore Kye Krall played for NCAA Division I school Western Illinois last season where he had three top-10 finishes.
“We want to be a family. For a lot of the newcomers, especially on the men’s side, we have five internationals and four Americans,” Anderson said. “We are their family here. We wanted them to know that they are in a new place, but we are here to help them out.”
Finishing out the squad are three freshmen. Hunter Millsap from McKinney, Texas, along with two players from the state of Idaho. Luke West set a pair of school records at Coeur d’Alene High School for lowest average (73.3) and lowest individual score (65). Owen Pearson helped Preston High School to two district championships.
“I think we brought in the right players and we are just looking to build and take that next step,” Anderson said.
The No. 25 women return two seniors and a sophomore from last year’s squad. Deana Caruso had three top-five finishes, including a second-place finish at the LCSC Warrior Spring Invitational. Kyla Currie finished third in that same home event and finished 11th in the Cascade Conference Championships. Sophomore Dallis Shockey found her stride late in the season with a fourth-place finish at the LCSC event and a top-10 finish at the CCC Championship tournament.
Three freshmen joined the team this year. Chase Caruso joins her older sister and becomes the third Caruso to play for LCSC in the past few seasons. Older brother Devon Caruso graduated after last season. Myah Parsons played well for Moscow High School before making the short trip to Lewiston. Natalia Gomez had a longer trip to join the Warriors, coming from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
“Definitely some age gaps in the team, I think we hit the notes that we needed to,” Anderson said. “It is a good mix of returning players and freshmen.”
The Oregon Tech Invitational will be a good early look for the Warriors on where they stand in a competitive Cascade Conference. British Columbia was the National Champions on both sides, with the women dominating to a second-straight title. While it is good competition for the Warriors to face the Thunderbirds multiple times in a season, Anderson knows that they have to stay within themselves and look internally.
“They are just a high-level program and they have been for a while. When you go to a national championship and the second-place team you beat by 28-shots. It kind of shows the gap,” Anderson said. “We have to have a different mentality going into some of the women’s tournaments knowing that we will probably get beat. It is a tough mentality to have, but can we split that gap, can we get closer.”
After the tournament at Oregon Tech, the Warriors will travel to three other tournaments this fall.
LC State will participate in its second CCC tournament of the season when they play at the Tokatee Golf Course in Salem, Ore., in the Corban Invitational on Sept. 25 and 26. The Warriors will play in the Beartooth Invitational on Oct. 2-3 and the Whitman Confluence Invitational on Oct. 22-23 to finish out the 2023 calendar year.
The annual LCSC Warrior Invitational is scheduled for April 15-16 in 2024. The Cascade Conference Championships at Loomis Trail Golf in Whatcom County, Wash. are from April 29–May 1.
The Warriors look to return to the National Tournament after having just one representative last season.
“The big things are focusing on ourselves. I learned last year that you cannot control the rankings. You can tell people all day long that you should be there, but you are not the one who chooses,” Anderson said. “Being able to understand what works best for us to get there, I think that starts with chemistry, mentality, and the culture of the team.”
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