Ashland University's men's golf team will go back to Kentucky for its second spring tournament, as the Eagles will play at the Findlay Spring Invitational in Lexington on Monday and Tuesday (March 25-26).
On March 16-17, Ashland opened spring play at the Saginaw Valley State Spring Invitational in Georgetown, Ky., placing 15th in the 21-team field at 298-297—595.
"That was a very good, deep field," said Ashland head coach Dennis North. "It's a great opportunity for us to see where we stand, and the hard work that needs to be put in to where we need to go."
Senior Austin Kondratick came out of the spring gates strong, finishing the SVSU invite in a tie for third place individually at 68-71—139.
"Austin obviously takes a lot of pride in his game," North said, "and I told the guys during the week that Austin is one of those guys that has that 'it factor,' to where he plays with no fear."
With Kondratick, sophomore Ben Jones and junior Patrick Steffen, Ashland's top three golfers are set. After that, North is looking to get a consistent No. 4 and No. 5 in place, and the player he is looking to is senior Cole Smith.
"I would really like to see Cole Smith stabilize himself, just because we are so young at the back end of the roster," said North. "Luke (redshirt freshman Luke Tanner), this is his first year playing. Brent (freshman Brent Dillon) played in his first event last weekend.
"Cole goes as an individual…and comes back and shoots 72 on the second day. He's put together a couple good rounds, and hopefully, we can continue that on."
Ashland is looking to ultimately qualify for the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2014, and the next month's worth of four tournaments is going to determine whether than happens or not.
"We've stressed this week the importance of getting off to a good start," North said. "In our qualifying this week, we've stressed getting off to a fast start, because what we have a tendency to do, on the back end of the lineup, is we have a tendency to kind of muddle our way through this thing, and make the turn at 5- or 6-over par, and steady ourselves out for the back nine, because all the pressure is off.
"We do have a chance (to make the NCAA playoffs)."