Croup’s Corner – Masterful potential of men’s golf team

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

Last weekend was ridiculously busy for the Point Park athletic department. Every spring team was in action and each has the potential to make runs in their respective conference tournaments.

The baseball team was in Boston, the softball team was in Pittsburgh and the track and field teams were at Westminster College.

While Sergio Garcia was winning the Masters in Augusta, Ga., the Point Park men’s golf team was quietly showing us its potential at the Links at Spring Church in Apollo, Pa.

Point Park finished second at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Spring Shootout this weekend, finishing eight strokes behind CMU.

It was the second official tournament of the spring semester as the golf team prepares for the conference tournament slated for April 17-18 in Union, Ky.

We had the first exciting look at the men’s golf team in October, when the Pioneers took first of 11 teams at the River States Conference (RSC) Fall Preview, the same course where the RSC Tournament will take place later this month.

Last year was a transition year for the program, but it still finished second of nine teams at the conference tournament.

Last year’s squad featured only one returner from the 2016 team that won the conference tournament to earn a bid in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament.

That team was in its third straight NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship and featured four seniors and one freshman.

That freshman is now a junior and hopes to help his team get back to the national championship.

Max Kaminsky said he learned a lot from playing under four seniors on that 2015-16 team. His team struggled last year at times, but he likes where it stands this year.

So does the rest of the country.

Point Park received votes in the NAIA Men’s Golf Top 25 Poll this week and is the clear favorite to win the RSC Tournament.

“I think we have the potential to be way better than last year,” Kaminsky said. “As long as we can stay focused and keep grinding, I think we can bring the conference tournament home.”

The team’s head coach has led the program since its reinstatement in 2009, but recently took on additional head coaching duties.

Gabe Bubon has been the head coach of the team since 2009 when the program returned from a 37-year hiatus. This year, he was named the interim head coach of the men’s basketball team.

The basketball and golf connection that he had was intriguing to Kaminsky and ultimately sold him on the school. The junior for the Pioneers was also a basketball player in high school, scoring 1,000 points during his career at
Serra Catholic.

“I knew I wanted to go here as soon as I met him,” Kaminsky said. “I just felt comfortable. You have to have that relationship with your coach.”

Kaminsky had a solid performance last weekend in Apollo after leading the team the previous week.

He was in good company.

Sophomore Gino DiPardo tied for fifth in the tournament, shooting 76 and 72 rounds to lead the Pioneers with a 148 total score.

Fellow sophomore Jared Bender posted a 151 total score to finish second on the team. Another sophomore, Gage Basiletti, shot 152 and Kaminsky followed with a 153 score. Rafael Perez-Santonja, a sophomore from Madrid, Spain, rounded out the starting five for Point Park, shooting 161.

See the common theme?

It’s a young squad that fielded four competitive sophomores and one junior this weekend that is no longer in a transition year.

The team has the potential to be great, not only this year, but in the years that follow.

If the “transition year” resulted in a second-place conference tournament finish, imagine what this year will bring.

Mark April 17-18 on your calendars for the RSC Tournament in Union, Ky. While you’re at it, you may as well mark May 16-19 for the NAIA National Championship in Moline, Ill.

You can bet the men’s golf team already has the dates circled.