Russell Sprecher leads Northern Michigan University men’s team after GLIAC golf meet’s first day

Northern Michigan University men’s golfer Russell Sprecher hits at the Stoatin Brae Golf Course in Augusta during the GLIAC Championships on Friday. (Photo courtesy NMU)

AUGUSTA — Russell Sprecher led the Northern Michigan University men’s golf team after carding a 2-over-par 73 on the first day of the GLIAC Championships at Stoatin Brae Golf Course in this downstate Kalamazoo County community.

The Wildcats finished with a four-player total of 310, or 26 over par, to stand in eighth place among the nine teams. Grand Valley State leads the way with a 2-under 282, eight strokes ahead of runner-up Ferris State. Purdue Northwest is just in front of NMU at 21-over 305, while Lake Superior State trails Northern with a 39-over 323.

“Challenging weather conditions led to a poor start,” said Wildcats head coach Eric Johnson, who witnessed his team shoot a collective 39-over in its opening nine holes before rebounding and shooting well under par on its final nine. “It was good to see a couple of them hang in there and finish strong.”

Temperatures were reported in the 40s with early rain, cloudy skies the rest of the day, and wind gusts topping 30 mph throughout.

Sprecher sits tied for ninth place in the 45-man field, just four strokes behind early leader Nick Krueger of GVSU, who had a 2-under 69. Sprecher is also only one stroke out of fifth, a four-way tie at 1-over 71 that includes golfers from Grand Valley, Wisconsin-Parkside, Davenport and Ferris State.

Sprecher took a triple-bogey on his third hole and was plus-3 at that point, but played his remaining 15 holes in 1-under-par that included back-to-back birdies. He is tied for the most pars in the field with 14.

Walter Ylitalo was next for NMU, shooting a 7-over 78 to tie for 32nd as he carded two birdies and nine pars.

Younger brother Arthur Ylitalo was next for Northern with an 8-over 79, then came teammate Eric Yun at 9-over 80, while Westwood High School graduate Tyler Annala carded a 13-over 84, though Annala’s score didn’t count in the team total.

NMU played the par-3s at 12-over-par and the par-4s at plus-1, but was second in the field behind GVSU in par-5 scoring at 4-under-par, averaging 4.80 strokes on those holes. The Wildcats had 43 pars and the third-most birdies in the field with 10.

The GLIAC medalist will be determined after this morning’s second 18-hole round that begins at 9 a.m., while the top four schools advance to the team match-play semifinals this afternoon and the finals on Sunday.

Wayne State currently holds the fourth and final spot for match play at 300, just 10 strokes better than Northern.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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