GREENSBORO, NC - The Wittenberg Tigers got off to a fast start to the 2014 NCAA Division III Tournament, but the Tigers struggled over the final nine holes on the challenging East Course of the Grandover Resort before settling in with an opening day score of 303.
Wittenberg wound up 15 strokes over par and 18 strokes off the lead established by red-hot Schreiner, which torched the East Course for a three-under-par 285. The Tigers actually had the seventh-best score on the East Course, which is playing 440 yards longer than the West Course.
The back nine travails put the Tigers in a difficult, but not entirely unfamiliar, position heading into the second round. In each of the last three years, Wittenberg has started the second round in danger of missing the 15-team cut, only to rally in two of those tournaments to earn an opportunity to continue playing the third and fourth rounds.
Wittenberg was one of four teams to finish with a 303 and in 21st place, including No. 1 ranked Illinois Wesleyan, which also struggled on the East Course. The fourth-ranked Tigers were led by juniors John Chaney (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Gilmour Academy) and Alex Andrews (Kirtland, Ohio/Gilmour Academy), both of whom carded a three-over-par 75 to stand 62nd in the 210-player field.
Senior Ben Hogenkamp (Minster, Ohio/Minster) was next for the Tigers with a 76, good for 83rd. Rounding things out were senior David Wetterich (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) with a 77 to stand 104th and junior Jared Wissinger (Hilliard, Ohio/Davidson) with an 80 to stand 141st.
"We've got a great team of veterans here," said Head Coach Jeff Roope, who learned earlier in the day that he is one of five finalists for national coach of the year honors. "They've embraced the challenge of tough fields and tough courses all year. They battled hard today, and I'm sure they'll do the same the entire championship."
After an early morning on the course in the opening round, the Tigers will have some to rest in the morning Wednesday before teeing off. Wittenberg is among the final teams set to take on the West Course, with tee times ranging from 12:50 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.