Millersville men’s golf poses with the trophy after a hard fought weekend of at Iron Valley Club. Photo courtesy of Millersville Athletics.

Justin Staggers
Sports Editor

Jake Speers was having trouble gripping a golf club following the first round of the PSAC Championships this past weekend. 

Despite that, the freshman from Ireland continued playing in the tournament that featured a blistering wind to compliment the already difficult design of the course, setting up what could be a potentially difficult tournament for Speers and the Marauders.

“I hurt my hand during the tournament on hole 14 of the first day. When I struck the ball my club hit a tree root in front of the ball and shot a pain through my wrist and up my arm. I played the last four holes with no feeling in my wrist and tried to put the best score I could in for the team” said Speers.

After doing his best to treat the injury Saturday, Speers would continue the tournament the next day, posting a three-over-par on Sunday. Although Speers was unable to qualify for the individual finish, his performance on Sunday marked one of the lowest rounds of that day.  

“I can’t say enough about the one young man [Speers], who couldn’t even play yesterday because of a hurt hand, and he led the charge today,” said 38-year head coach Scott Vandegrift. 

How it happened

Going into the final round of play on Sunday, Millersville found themselves with a one-stroke lead over the second-place Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), who has owned this tournament over the last ten years. At this point in the contest, it was essentially a two-team race between Millersville and IUP, as the next closest team was another 12 shots behind. 

It was up to the Marauders to continue battling through tough conditions, as well as injuries on the roster. The wind only increased going into the final day of play, setting up a potential dramatic finish between the two Pennsylvania universities. 

However, it was Millersville that was able to continue battling through the difficult weather, holding off the defending champion IUP. The team posted an impressive total of 296 on Sunday as they were led by freshman Timothy Peters and senior Bobby Lugiano on the final 18 holes. 

The Marauders started off shaky on the front nine, with freshman Timothy Peters bogeying on four of the first five holes. Peters found his stroke quickly after that, shooting just one over par on the ensuing 13 holes. 

When Speers sunk his birdie putt on hole 15, that gave the Marauders a six-shot lead, officially locking up the PSAC Championship. While other teams’ level of play declined during the wind, it was Millersville who excelled at that time. 

“Back home is very windy, so coming from a windy background on links courses back home in Ireland, I really enjoyed the final day and being able to keep ball down and I’m sure the lads enjoyed the challenge too. The bad weather always seems to bring out the best in our team and we always seem to play quite good in bad conditions” said Speers.

What’s next?

The day following the 2023 PSAC Championships, the Marauders closed their fall season at the Lebanon Valley Invitational on Monday, Oct. 23. Led by Carl Ernst, Millersville won the contest by 17 shots, capturing their second title in as many days.

The Marauders have been playing their best golf as of late, winners of their last four consecutive events. By winning the PSAC Championship, the team is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Atlantic/East Super Regional. This event will take place May 22 – May 26, 2024 at the Avalon Lakes Country Club in Warren Ohio. 

In the Spring, the Marauders will return to the course to look to build on what has already been an extremely successful 2023 campaign. With talented freshmen on the team such as Jake Speers and Timothy Peters, the men’s golf is set up for success not only in the short term but also in the long run.