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Detroit

April 10, 2014

WSU golf shoots for another bid into the NCAA tournament

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Pictured is Wayne State University golfer Robert Favaro (St. Thomas of Villanova). Head coach Mike Horn cited winning a national championship as the program’s “ultimate goal.”

Over the last 10 years, Wayne State University’s men’s golf program has qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament nine times, including each of the last seven seasons. 

In 2009 and 2010, the Warriors made it as far as the finals of the NCAA tournament, which is the furthest the program has ever gone.

What it all adds up to is a program that has experienced success, and the man who has led the way since 2001 is head coach Mike Horn.

“We’re very proud of the last 10, 12 years,” Horn said. “We put ourselves in the top three or four teams in the GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) every year — a very competitive league and a very competitive region, so we have to be on top of our game every year when we tee it up. Chris Hill and Jacob Abramson — first recruits I got in 2002 that were really good players, and since that point we’ve been blessed with a lot of great players, great kids, great students.”

As nice of an accomplishment as making multiple appearances in the NCAA tournament has been, Horn isn’t quite ready to rest. While he cited having a strong showing at the GLIAC championship and making the NCAA tournament as goals the program has every year, if Wayne State can accomplish what Horn referred to as the “ultimate goal,” it would be a first in program history.

“I think we can compete for a national championship,” said Horn, who qualified for the NCAA finals as an individual in 1986; Joe Juszczyk and Eric Johnson are the only other two golfers in program history to qualify as individuals. “Winning a national championship is not out of the question. It would be a dream come true. The Midwest is blessed with a lot of great golfers. A lot of kids that play in the Midwest have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. When we’ve competed at the national level through the Super Regionals, we hold our own.

“The national championship would be amazing. We won the national championship here in (women’s) swimming (in 2012). To get to that level here at Wayne State, we have the drive and resources to be able to do that.”

While junior Austin Hill (Auburn Hills Avondale High School) also cited making it to the national championship as a goal, there may be an even more pressing one for him.

“I think my biggest goal is a GLIAC championship,” he said. “We haven’t had one in a long time (Horn said since the 2003-04 season), and I heard stories throughout my time here of how incredible that week was. I would do a lot of things in order to get that championship. I think that’d be icing on the cake.”

Aside from aiming for an eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, which is scheduled for May 5-7 in Eureka, Mo. — and the finals are scheduled for May 19-23 in South Haven, Mich. — Horn has also taken some time to consider the future of the program.

“I think we’re very healthy,” he said. “I would say getting to the finals once every four years is probably a realistic goal that we could achieve coming out of the Midwest with our winter and so forth. We’re very blessed with great leadership from (Wayne State Director of Athletics) Rob Fournier; we’re blessed with great resources to work with. We’re very blessed with everything we have to work with.”

At press time, the Warriors were in the top 10 of their region, which would qualify them for the NCAA tournament.

Aside from Hill, Kyle Rybicki (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) and Tyler Haksluoto (St. Clair Shores South Lake) are the other local players on the Warriors’ roster.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.