Navy Sets Its Sight on 2008 Patriot League Golf Championship

Seniors Chris Renninger and Erich Schoen will anchor a Navy team who last won the Patriot League Championship at the Saucon Valley Country Club in 2003.


Senior captain Chris Renninger is a two-time All-Patriot League performer who placed second at the 2007 Patriot League Championship.

April 24, 2008

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy golf team makes a return visit to the Saucon Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania this weekend where it will look to capture its fifth Patriot League Championship. The last time the Patriot League Championship was played at the Saucon Valley Country Club, tournament MVP Brian Crum won the individual title and led the Midshipmen to the 2003 Patriot League Championship crown. Action kicks off on Saturday at 8:00 am from the black tees on the Grace Course with 36 holes of play, followed by the final round on Sunday starting at 8:00 am. The winner of the two-day, 54-hole tournament will receive an automatic bid into one of the three NCAA regional tournaments.

Lehigh will serve as the host school, while the Saucon Valley Country Club will play host to the Patriot League Championship for the third time. In 1996, Lehigh turned in a 10-stroke advantage over the Midshipmen to claim the league title on its home course. As previously mentioned, Navy claimed a 31-stroke decision over Lehigh to take the crown in 2003.

Bucknell has claimed the Patriot League Championship in each of the last two years and both times by just a handful of strokes. In 2006, the Bison clipped Army by just two strokes, while last year Navy fell short of the tournament win by just three strokes. Nine of the 11 All-Patriot League performers are back on the links, including Holy Cross senior Matt Czarnecki who will try to become the second golfer to win back-to-back individual titles. Bucknell's Charlie Waddell is the only golfer to achieve the feat, winning in 2005 and again in '06.

Though Navy turned in a second-place finish in last spring's league championship, the Mids have claimed the tournament title four times in the last nine years, including back-to-back-to-back titles in 1998, 2000 and 2001. In addition, five different Midshipmen have won the individual title, including two in the last five years. Last spring, Navy's Chris Renninger (Darnestown, Md.) nearly became the sixth player to claim the individual crown, but fell short of Czarnecki by just a stroke.

Just two of the six players who represented Navy at last year's Patriot League Championship will compete in this year's tournament. Renninger, who garnered All-Patriot League kudos for a second straight year, paced the Mids with his 3-over par 213. Holy Cross' Matt Czarnecki and Renninger were deadlocked heading into the final round of action, as both carded a 1-over par 141. Czarnecki held off Renninger by posting a 1-over par 71 to Renninger's 2-over par 72. on Sunday to claim individual medalist honors. Renninger, meanwhile, was just a stroke behind, finishing the tournament in second place with a 3-over par 213 and garnered All-Patriot League recognition for the second-straight year.

Junior Ryan Wielgus (Bethesda, Md.), who returned to the Mids' lineup a week ago after missing most of the spring with a hand injury, placed 26th last spring with a 20-over par 230. In 2006, he was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Year after tying for eighth with a 16-over par 229, the highest placing rookie in the field. Wielgus is coming off a 14th-place showing at the Navy Spring Invitational where he turned in a 5-over par 147.

Though senior Erich Schoen (Sylvania, Ohio) did not compete in last year's league tournament, he is no stranger to the postseason tournament. Schoen placed 21st with a 17-over par 227 in the 2005 Patriot League Championship and followed up in 24th (+24, 237) in 2006. Schoen owns the low average on the team this season with a 75.4 average over 21.5 rounds. He has four top 20 performances, including three top-10 marks.

Meanwhile, David Miller (Chillicothe, Ohio) is also back in the lineup after missing the '07 league tournament. As a freshman, Miller finished just outside of the top with his 20-over par 233 to place 12th alongside classmate Eric Stinson (Spotsylvania, Pa.). Miller has played in two of Navy's three tournaments this spring and heads into the weekend with a 78.3 stroke average over 15.5 rounds this year.

Rounding out Navy's six-man lineup will be freshmen Ben Hayes (Carmichael, Calif.) and Josh Ziska (Camarillo, Calif.). Hayes is coming off a phenomenal performance at the Navy Spring Invitational a week ago where he won his first collegiate tournament with a 3-under par 139. Additionally, he tied the tournament record for lowest 36-hole score, as well as the lowest 36-hole scores to par. Hayes has seen action in four events this season and over the 9.5 rounds, he has produced a 75.7 stroke average. In addition to his fine performance last weekend, he opened the spring season by placing 22nd at the George Washington Invitational at the Bear Trap Dunes in Delaware with an 11-over par 191.

Ziska, meanwhile, has competed in five tournaments in his first season with the Mids where he has produced a 77.7 stroke average over 11.5 rounds. He has been successful for head coach Pat Owen in the past, including helping lead Navy to a 6.5 - 4.5 come-from-behind win over arch rival Army in the annual Star Match. After teaming up with Schoen to win the 4-ball match against Joey Cave and Minou Pak, Ziska earned a 4&3 win over Army freshman Matt Krembel the following day in what was the first of five singles wins for the Mids. It marked the first time in series history (10 matches in this format) that a team has come back to win the match after trailing following the 4-ball matches.

### Go Navy ###

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