Almost as quickly as it began, the 2017 fall season nearly has concluded for Ashland University's men's golf team.
The Eagles have played in three tournaments so far in September, placing in a tie for third, fifth and ninth as a team. The fourth of five fall tourneys will take place on Sunday (Sept. 24) and Monday (Sept. 25), as the Findlay Fall Invitational will be played at both Red Hawk Run Golf Club and Findlay Country Club.
As a team, Ashland is averaging a round of 298. Included on that ledger are rounds of 284 and 289 – two of the lowest team 18-hole totals in several years.
Junior Austin Kondratick has continued his recent history of strong fall play at Ashland. He has been the Eagles' leader in every fall tournament as both a sophomore and a junior, and his fall 2017 average round is 72.2, which includes rounds of 67 and 69.
"He's playing great golf," said Ashland head coach Logan Cooke. "For him to be consistently posting a really low number in his two rounds, it's only a matter of time before he gets into his comfort zone and finishes out a tournament.
"I really have high expectations for Austin, just because of the player he is and just how much time he puts in."
Freshman Ben Jones has been a consistent performer for the Eagles through his first six collegiate rounds, sitting tied with sophomore Patrick Steffen for second on the team with a fall average of 75.7. All six of Jones' rounds have ended in scores between 74 and 77.
"My favorite thing about him, with him being a freshman, I can't tell on that golf course if he is 18 years old, or if he is my age, 27 years old, out there," Cooke said. "That alone really separates him from a lot of other people that he's playing against out there."
Cooke is returning to familiar surroundings this weekend, having played at the University of Findlay on the men's golf team for four years.
"(There are) a lot of great teams in this," he said. "With Findlay playing as well as they are, it's going to be a lot of fun, especially on their home turf. I'm excited to go back there and play. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a fun tournament to play in."