(PRESQUE ISLE, ME) -- 2011 was a very solid year for the UMPI men's golf team. The squad finished first in five of the seven invitational tournaments they played in. They improved their finish in the Maine Intercollegiate Tournament by going from 10th place the year before to a tie for 5th place. And the team finished the season in 6th place in the USCAA national rankings with a 326 scoring average.
Two players finished ranked in the USCAA top 25 players n the country - Reynold Brown 12th and Mike Balmer 14th.
With both golfers returning to the team in 2012, a shot at competing in the USCAA Nationals, which this year takes place on the campus of Penn State, is a real possibility.
As the players prepare for the beginning of classes on Tuesday and the beginning of the season at their own UMPI Invitational on Friday, 3rd year Owls' head coach Dan Hotham gave his thoughts on what is ahead for his Owls.
- Key dates, stretches during this season: "We are playing a very tough schedule this season that is compressed in a short amount of time. Within less than a week after the start of the fall semester, we host our invitational, travel the next day to play in Colby's Invitational and the following day play in UMM's Invitational. Not being affiliated with a conference at this time, we will play in matches hosted by both the NAC and Yankee Conferences and compete against the most competitive college golf programs in the state: Husson University, UMF, USM and will compete against all collegiate golf programs in the State in the Maine Intercollegiate Tournament at the Val Halla CC on September 22and 23."
- Key returners and what they will bring to the team: "Last year's MVP and Rookie of the Year Reynold Brown (So./Essex, CT) will again this year be either the number one or number two starter and is looking to improve upon his last season's scoring average and moving up in the USCAA national rankings. Junior captain Mike Balmer (Jr./New Smyrna Beach, FL) will be battling Reynold for the number one spot and has worked on his game all summer in an effort to improve upon his 79 scoring average last season and his USCAA national ranking. Competition for the final three slots will be keen between second year players Tony Batchelder (Jr./West Enfield, ME), DJ Conley (So./South Portland, ME), Eric Brown (So./Caribou, ME), and Allen Conner (So./Stonington, ME) and first year player Jordan Beaulier.
- What will constitute a successful season and why: "Each year we attempt to improve upon our individual and team scoring averages, which of course will determine our success in the invitationals we compete in. Our benchmark each season is the Maine Intercollegiate Tournament and again this season are looking to improve our finish in that event. This year players have an added incentive which is to qualify to compete in the USCAA National Tournament in October. Our goal is to qualify 5 players for the competition."
- The team will be successful if: "We certainly want to compete in all the invitational we participate in and qualify as many players as possible for the USCAA Nationals. More importantly, however, we want to help young men develop their skills in a game they can play the rest of their lives and have memorable experiences that will enrich their college experience."