DENVER – If Year 1 was an indication, then the future of the Johnson & Wales University men's golf team is extremely bright.
A cold, wet Colorado winter left snow on the ground for much of the Wildcats' spring season, preventing them from practicing outside a majority of the time; and yet the Wildcats still managed to post encouraging results on a weekly basis.
Junior Alex Fernandez (St. Johns, FL) led the team throughout both the fall and spring and finished with a scoring average of 80.86. His of 3-over 74 on Oct. 19 at the Wildcat-Cougar Dual at CommonGround Golf Club was the lowest score by a Wildcat all season.
Fernandez also set the pace for JWU at the SCAC Championships, finishing tied for 16th at Vaaler Golf Club in Blanco, Texas. Fernandez tied his own program record for the lowest 18-hole score during the event with his second-round 74 at the championship.
The team picked up a huge lift between the spring and fall campaigns when junior James Shalhoup (North Easton, MA), a transfer from Elms College, joined the lineup. Over his final seven rounds, Shalhoup shot in the 70s three times, including a season-best score of 75 March 24 at the Bob Writz Invitational in Lakewood. Shalhoup's season average of 84.46 was second on the team.
Sophomore Manny Garcia (Lakewood, CO) emerged as one of the most reliable Wildcats, particularly toward the end of the spring. Garcia ranked third on the team with an average score of 88.95, however, over the final 10 rounds of the season his average score dropped to 84.30, including a season-best 82 at the Eagle Invitational on March 31 in Stafford, Virginia.
Freshman Steven Gadient (Shelbyville, IN) was fourth on the Wildcats with an average of 90.9, and like Garcia, improved as the season went on. Starting with what was at the time a season-best round of 80 on March 16 at the Willamette Valley Cup, Gadient broke 90 seven times over his final 10 rounds, including a personal-low 78 March 31 at the Eagle Invite.
Freshman Andrew Thimjon (Hillsboro, OR) also had his best 18-hole score during the second round of the Eagle Invite at Augustine Golf Club with an 82. Thimjon matched that score at team's next event April 13 at the Wisconsin Lutheran Invite on the way to a season average of 93.95.
Perhaps best of all, the entire JWU Denver men's golf lineup from 2018-19 is eligible to return next year as the program closes in on hiring a new head coach.