Prior to the start of the 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships on Friday (April 19) at Bedford Valley Country Club in Battle Creek, Mich., Ashland University's men's golf team had been on quite a run – five consecutive rounds of team scores of 300 or better.
Make that six straight 300-or-lower rounds, as the Eagles carded a 295 to lead the 11-team field after Friday's first 18 holes. Ashland's pacesetters were sophomore Ben Jones and senior Austin Kondratick, who each are tied for first place with 1-under-par 71s.
Jones recorded three birdies, played the front nine even, and finished his day at 1-under-par 71 – tied for his best round of the spring. Kondratick posted five birdies on the day, including three on the back nine as he came in at 3-under 33.
Junior Patrick Steffen (tied for eighth) came out of the gate strong on Friday, finishing the front nine at 2-under before coming into the clubhouse at 1-over 73. Steffen had four birdies in the opening round, including three in a five-hole stretch.
Rounding out the counting scores for Ashland was senior Cole Smith (tied for 38th), who birdied Nos. 3 and 12 en route to a first-round 80.
Redshirt freshman Luke Tanner (tied for 50th) fired an opening-round 83.
The second day of the GLIAC Championships will be on Saturday (April 20). The top four teams after 36 holes will move on to semifinal head-to-head medal play on Sunday (April 21) morning, with the two semifinal winners playing head-to-head medal play for the league title on Sunday afternoon.
After Friday's first 18 holes, the four semifinal spots would go to the Eagles, Ferris State (298), Grand Valley State (302) and Northern Michigan (303). Ashland is 12 shots ahead of fifth-place Purdue Northwest and Wayne State (307).