COVID-19 has impacted sports across the globe. The Nevada men’s golf team was one of the earliest victims of the pandemic.
Nevada was in the midst of a successful spring 2020 season. It was set to travel to Eugene, Ore. for the Duck Invitational followed by The Goodwin Tournament at Palo Alto, Calif starting on March 26. The Pack had three more competitions after The Goodwin, which were all impacted by the global pandemic.
Once the coronavirus spread, the Wolf Pack’s hopeful season was gone in what seemed to be the blink of an eye. Nevada men’s head golf coach Jacob Wilner is still trying to put the pieces together.
“It all happened really fast,” he said. “I just felt so bad for our seniors that this could be potentially their last tournament. It was all kind of a shock that happened all so quickly… It still hasn’t settled in since things have occurred so fast.”
A total of eight players competed through a lengthy 2019 fall campaign with six tournaments and invitationals scattered across the country. The remaining five regular season contests were canceled when the Mountain West Conference suspended all spring sports on March 12.
“These kids worked so hard and dedicated so many hours of their time to a sport. To have it all come crashing down like that is tough,” Wilner said. “It’s just a process of taking it all in and trying to be patient.”
Prior to the suspension, men’s golf was finding its groove on the course. The Wolf Pack placed second at the Jackrabbit Invitational on March 6-7. Nevada collected a Top-10 finish at the Hoakalei CC Invitational on Oct. 28-30 to end the fall season.
The Wolf Pack were gearing up for a strong finish to the spring season. They had their eyes set on the Mountain West Championship that was scheduled for May 1-3 in Bremerton, Wash.
“We were playing really well down the stretch and I liked this team,” Wilner said. “They worked hard and had a lot of fight in them. We still had six events left plus the postseason in the spring, so we were just getting going. We didn’t play well in the fall, but we had some momentum before everything happened.”
While the men’s golf team established chemistry as a unit, sophomore Trey Davis was having a memorable 2019-20 season. He posted an average score of 73.68 with 55 birdies, including a season-high 13 at the Stockton Pacific Invitational. His 187 pars on the year ranked second on the team.
Davis was preparing for a successful spring before it suddenly came to an end.
“I felt like I was really starting to turn it around,” he said. “I thought this was going to be one of our best springs for me individually and us as a team. I was looking forward to it and it’s all gone.”
For the time being, Davis and the Wolf Pack roster are still finding ways to stay in shape in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re just doing everything we can to stay active,” he said. “It sucks since courses are closed and I’m forced to stay at home. But I’m still working out and working on my game as much as I can.”
Wilner and the Wolf Pack coaching staff have their hands full for next season. The NCAA announced on March 30 that Division-1 spring athletes will be granted an extra year of eligibility. Three seniors were on Nevada’s 2019-20 team, making for a difficult task ahead with roster reconstruction.
“We’re focusing on that aspect of our roster,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what to do for scheduling and budgets. It’s about being prepared for next year with hopes that we play next season.”
Despite the shortened season, there is plenty of optimism surrounding the Wolf Pack’s future. Nevada showcased its talent on the green and capped-off the year on a high note.
Davis has high expectations for the program as a whole.
“Our team chemistry and coaching was really coming together,” he said. “The program as a whole was really turning it around, so I feel like it’ll be a lot better for next semester.”
The Nevada men’s golf team has made the most of a lost 2019-20 season. Wilner will keep spirits high and prepare for next year.
“We did play well with a lot of individual performances,” he said. “Sam Harned had an individual win. Connor Motherway came out and played well as a freshman. We had great team chemistry and we can build off it.”
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SagebrushSports.