GREENSBORO, NC - The Wittenberg Tigers posted a solid score in the fourth and final round and then spent an entertaining afternoon watching the scoreboard at the NCAA Division III Tournament. By the time the last teams finished, the Tigers had moved up an amazing seven spots to finish in fifth place.
The fifth-place finish is the second-best in program history, trailing only a fourth-place finish in 1990. The top-five performance was Wittenberg's first in five appearances in the national competition under Head Coach Jeff Roope, bettering a sixth-place finish in 2010 and a seventh-place finish in 2013.
Wittenberg was one of just three teams to complete the third round before the rains ended Thursday's round, forcing most of the field to play at least 27 holes on Friday. The Tigers started the day in 13th place and had moved up to 12th by the end of the third round. Wittenberg then took the course with the first group of the fourth round and posted a deceiving team score of 302.
Then the waiting game began. One by one, teams in the middle of the 15-team pack that made the two-round cut dropped behind the Tigers as the long, challenging East Course at Grandover Resort pushed scores higher and higher.
By day's end, Wittenberg's score was the second-best of the fourth round. Only Redlands topped that score with a 297 to finish third, seven strokes behind first-time champion Schreiner at 1185 and Oglethorpe at 1190. Redlands totaled 1192, followed by Methodist at 1197 and Wittenberg at 1203.
"I told the guys after the round that they had probably played the best team round of golf all year," said Head Coach Jeff Roope. "The score wasn't the best, but it was still a great team round. Each of the guys had moments on the course today where their round could have really gone bad, but each of them found a way to turn it around and contribute to the team's finish.
"They all battled really hard. It was disappointing not to be playing for a championship, but for playing in a less than perfect situation, I was very pleased."
Wittenberg was paced individually by junior John Chaney (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Gilmour Academy) with a 73, followed closely by junior Jared Wissinger (Hilliard, Ohio/Davidson) with a 74. Senior Ben Hogenkamp (Minster, Ohio/Minster) added a 77, junior Alex Andrews (Kirtland, Ohio/Gilmour Academy) finished with a 78 and senior David Wetterich (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) rounded things out with a 79.
The key to the Tigers' success was consistency as all five players finished in the top 60 in a field that started with 210 golfers. Andrews led the way with a four-round total of 300 to finish 25th, followed by Hogenkamp in 31st with a 302, Chaney in 34th with a 303 and Wissinger and Wetterich in 56th with matching scores of 309.