By KIRK HARDCASTLE
NIACC sports information director
MASON CITY – The extremely short NIACC men's and women's golf season is about to get underway.
The NIACC women open their season Saturday and Sunday at the Iowa Central Invitational at Otter Creek Golf Course.
The NIACC men's season gets underway Sunday and Monday at the Kirkwood Invitational at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Rapids.
"Once we get going, it's a five-week season," said Chris Frenz, who begins his 11th season as coach of the NIACC golf program.
Several members of the NIACC golf teams along with Frenz and assistant coach Alexendria Eckenrod took a spring break trip to Tampa, Fla., which allowed the players to get out a course for the first time since the fall season.
Frenz said the spring break trip was a productive one.
"We've been hitting the ball into the nets," the veteran coach said, "so everybody's golf ball looked like it was going perfectly straight and 250 to 270 yards.
"When you actually get to the hit the ball on the course, you realize it's not going dead straight all the time."
The NIACC men's team returns three sophomores from last year's team that placed seventh at the NJCAA Region XI tournament. The returners are Zach Nicholson, Joe Nordquist and Kenton Waters.
Nicholson, who is from Dike, had an 81.5, 18-hole average in nine rounds in his freshman season last spring. He had an 80.4, 18-hole average in seven rounds in the fall.
"Zach Nicholson had an excellent fall," Frenz said.
Nordquist, who is from Fairmont, Minn., had an 83.7, 18-hole average in nine rounds last spring. He also had an 80.4, 18-hole average in seven rounds in the 2016 fall season.
"He has one of the best swings that I've ever seen," Frenz said, "and anyone else who has ever seen him always says the same thing. We just need to get him to be a little more consistent."
Waters did not play on the Trojans' team that played at the regional meet last spring, but Frenz said he's in the mix this spring.
"He went through the battles last year," Frenz said. "He's always right around that fifth spot and he know he's in for a battle this year."
The Trojans' top player average-wise in the fall was freshman Devin Koob, a former Nashua-Plainfield prep. Koob had a seven-round 18-hole average of 79.8
"I was really impressed with Devin Koob," Frenz said. "He was a lot better than I thought he was going to be."
The men's regional tournament is set for May 6-7 at Veenker Golf Course in Ames. The NJCAA Division II national tournament is May 23-26 in Mesa, Ariz.
In the fall, the Lady Trojans were led by freshman Courtney Tusler, who prepped at Osage. Tusler had a four-round, 18-hole average of 94.75.
"She kind of struggled a bit in the fall," Frenz said, "but I think that had to do with the length of the courses. She hits the ball extremely well and is going to be fine."
"If we can get them to be more consistent, they are going to help out," the coach said.
The women's regional meet is set for April 28-29 at Otter Creek in Ankeny and the national tournament is May 15-18 in Duluth, Ga.
"Every year I've been the coach, we've had at least one national qualifier on the women's side," Frenz said. "Hopefully, we can make it as a team this year."
This is the first season them golf program has had an assistant coach with Eckenrod coming on board. Eckenrod played for the Lady Trojans in 2012-13.
She also played two seasons at William Penn University.
"She has to be one of the few to play in four national tournaments," Frenz said. "She played for me so she knows how I am.
"We really roll off each other very well. She's already helped with recruiting and she's been a great addition to the program."