The Shawnee State University men’s golf program has made modifications to their earlier release on July 7, with the men attending the Indiana-East Invitational instead of the West Virginia Tech Invitational on Aug. 30 and adding in a trip to Jackson, Mich. for the Spring Arbor Tournament on Sept. 23 and 24, according to SSU men’s and women’s golf coach Dave Hopkins.
Both programs, who have combined to collect 18 top-five finishes over the past three seasons under Hopkins’ direction, bring back star-studded golfers into the fold for the 2019-20 season.
On the men’s side of the spectrum, the returning group is led by BJ Knox (SO/Maysville, Kentucky), who, in his first season of eligibility at Shawnee State, collected a third-place finish at the Mid-South Conference Championships in April with a five-over 221, and Jordan Hughes (SO/Flemingsburg, Kentucky), who put together outstanding efforts in the fall and spring with fifth-place finishes at the Golden Bear Classic (nine-over 153), and the SSU Fall Invitational (two-over 146), a 13th place finish at the MSC Fall Invitational (two-day total of 148), an 18th place finish at the KCU Fall Invitational (14-over 122), and a 21st place showing at the Mid-South Conference Championships (238 over three rounds).
Behind the duo, Elijah McCarty (SO/West Union, Ohio), who finished third at the KCU Fall Invitational (three-over 111), and obtained three finishes inside the top-20 at the SSU Fall Invitational (six-over 150, 13th), the Golden Bear Classic (14-over 158, 16th), and the Mid-South Conference Fall Invitational (two-day 149, 18th), leads a group of strong returnees that also includes Craig Horton (JR/West Union, Ohio), Tanner Miller (JR/Flatwoods, Kentucky), Ben Wilson (SR/Flatwoods, Kentucky), and Bobby Thomas (SR/Ashland, Kentucky), who all regularly vied for scoring positions.
The seven returnees are joined by a huge recruiting class of eight golfers who will each be taking to the course this fall, including local standout Tyler Hobbs (FR/Portsmouth, Ohio) of nearby Portsmouth Clay, who progressed massively into a First-Team SOC I golf and tennis talent in his senior season last fall and spring, respectively, along with Austin Barta (FR/Marietta, Ohio), who was a member of the All-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference team, a four-year letterwinner, a four-year academic honoree, and an Academic All-Ohio honoree.
Rio Grande transfer Creed Bentley (SO/Piketon, Ohio) and Ohio Christian transfer DJ Graham (JR/Piketon, Ohio) also will join the roster, with the latter of whom once being a member of a Piketon High School golf unit that won not only a Division II Sectional Championship, but a Division II District Championship en route to a school-best third place showing at the OHSAA Division II State Championships. Graham shot a 155 to collect Second-Team All-Ohio accolades. Trey Albert (FR/Reynoldsburg, Ohio), Jake Hoover (FR/Piketon, Ohio) — a third Pike Countian — and two additional Adams County hands, including Patrick England (JR/Seaman, Ohio) and Jacob Pell (FR/West Union, Ohio), will be on the roster.
On the women’s side of the spectrum, six women, including three returnees, will be back with the program in 2019-20. Holley Hart (JR/Falmouth, Kentucky), who finished third overall with a nine-over 81 at the Kentucky Christian Fall Invitational and ninth overall at the SSU Fall Invitational with a +27-over 171 in addition to her 18th place finish (159 two-day total) at the Mid-South Conference Fall Invitational, leads the charge while Ellie Schneider (JR/Norwalk, Ohio) (13th overall, +38-over 182) and Emily Hayes (SR/Pataskala, Ohio) (19th overall, +53 over 197) round out the returnees.
Behind them, four newcomers join the roster, headlined by local Portsmouth High School talent Katelyn Pertuset, who was named as the Portsmouth golf squad’s Most Improved Player while also obtaining a second-place finish in the OVC girls realm. Sophia Horn (FR/Carroll, Ohio), who starred at Bloom-Carroll High School, won the Mid-State League’s Preseason Tournament Champion as a junior, its Postseason Tournament Champion as a senior, and was a First-Team All-Mid State League recipient in each of her final two seasons as a player, a Division II Sectional Champion, the 2018-2019 Lancaster Eagle-Gazette’s Golfer of the Year, and a OHSAA Division II top-10 finisher, also joins Pertuset in the recruiting class and is followed by Erika Martin (FR/Greenfield, Ohio) — the Times-Gazette’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year winner for 2019 — and Cabell Midland (W. Va.) High School graduate Skylar Sayre (FR/Huntington, W. Va.).
From a schedule standpoint, the men will start action initially as they hit the Liberty Country Club links in Richmond, Ind. as part of the IU-East Invitational before both squads conviene together for a short trip to Olive Hill, Ky. on Sept. 7 and 8 as the men and women participate in the Kentucky Christian Fall Invitational at Hidden Cove Golf Course. At that juncture, both units take an extended break — 15 and 20 days, respectively — before the men return to action at the Spring Arbor Tournament in Jackson, Mich. on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24, with the women joining the men four days later when the University of Pikeville Fall Invitational starts up at Stonecrest Golf Course in Prestonsburg, Ky. on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29. A road trip to the Gibson Bay Golf Course for the Mid-South Conference Fall Invitational on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, followed by the lone home invitational on the schedule — the Roger Merb Invitational on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 — completes the fall portion of the golf schedules for SSU.
For more information on Shawnee State Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com.