The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s golf team is looking to improve on an impressive NCAA tournament run from last year, in which they placed eighth.
However, the first task for the Stags will be reclaiming the SCIAC title, after falling last year to Redlands. What is an ambitious goal for most SCIAC teams has practically become standard for the Stags — the team has only missed out on the honor twice since the 2013-14 season.
“Last season, we obviously dropped the ball a little bit toward the end,” Rishi Bhat CM ’22 said. “But we do believe we are the best team in the SCIAC.”
Still, their ambitions are somewhat loftier than just topping the conference. The Stags won the Division III national championship in 2016 and will look to make a run at a national title again this year. They believe their increased depth will propel them beyond their eighth-place finish from last year, as the team has six newcomers.
“Basically, we doubled in size,” Bhat said. “We won in 2016, and in my opinion, we have just a far greater team this year than we have [had] in the last couple years.”
CMS will open the spring season Feb. 16 at the Coyote Classic in Riverside.
The Athena golf squad, who won a national championship themselves in 2018, are similarly looking to make a run at a national title this year. After falling short last year with a fourth-place finish at NCAAs, they are fired up to fight for another.
“Being a senior, I feel like I’m a little ambitious,” said Emma Kang CM ’20, who has already been to three NCAA Championships with the Athenas.
Despite its winning tradition, the team has made a few changes to improve from last year. It added four first-years to the team, as well as another assistant coach, and hopes these additions will give it an extra boost come tournament time.
The team will welcome the return of its First-Team All-American Mira Yoo CM ’21 as well. Yoo helped the team on its NCAA run last year with a personal 15th-place finish at the DIII Championships.
Even so, the team selection for matches remains competitive because not everyone gets to compete.
“We’re here to play well, so whoever is playing the best, so be it,” Kang said. “I’m excited for adding the new freshmen. We’ve definitely seen that they’re playing well, especially in pre-season, and I think that it’s going to be a good semester.”
The women opened their season on Feb. 7 with a 309-362 victory over Chapman, and will compete in the SCIAC #1 meet Feb. 22.