With the grass slowly turning from brown to green, the Salukis continue their returning-season preparations, which includes changes to the roster.
The Salukis men’s golf team will lose four seniors by the end of the season, including the team’s top three stroke-average leaders. Beyond the senior’s success on the green, their team members said their leadership that will be missed most.
“I chose SIU in part because of the seniors that lead the team so well,” freshman Ryan Haxel said. “Everything they do just gives us freshmen and sophomores more opportunity to learn and grow as players. Me, Drew Novara and Ben Patton are looking forward to stepping into it next season.”
The team is led by senior Captains Brandon Cauldwell and Jake Erickson. Cauldwell leads the team with a 73.88 stroke average. Erickson isn’t playing as good a season as last, when he led the Salukis with a 74.13 stroke average that was the seventh lowest in team history.
“I think the freshmen will be able to do well,” Erickson said. “With Steven Souchek coming from John A. (Logan College,) I think they can come in and do well and end with a good season next year. (Steve) was possible fit for a national championship on that level which makes him a fit here.”
Erickson may be having a down season statistically, but Haxel said his leadership is most important to the team. He said Erickson’s off-course actions are far more important than his play on it. The Salukis just are not the same without him and Brandon leading the way, he said.
“It’s going to be a little different but it will help with (Steve) coming in from John A.,” Novara said. “I’ve known him for a while now. His dad and my dad are really good friends since back in their coaching days. It will be a little different losing the four seniors, but as far as getting along goes I think we will be fine.”
Some potential captain replacements include juniors George Tate and Caleb Harms. Tate and Harms are ninth and fourth on the team in stroke average so far this season.
“George and Caleb have been here for three years,” Erickson said. “Seniors are leaders, and I think those two are going to step up and play that role. Ever since I have been here, there has been someone leading the team and I think they will be able to do well.”