The last time that Blackburn has been able to honor a team with a new banner in Dawes Gymnasium was after the 2010 men’s golf team finished at the top of the SLIAC and earned a conference championship.
Prior to that, Dawes added banners quite regularly, but since those golf honors in 2010, Blackburn has experienced a drought.
Though it may not be nearly as long as the recently ended 108-year drought by the Chicago Cubs or as long as golf’s own Tiger Woods’ list of injuries that have kept him out of three of the last four Masters and numerous other major tournaments in recent years, for Blackburn, it’s been too long.
The 2017 Blackburn golf team may change that. Although maybe not this year, next season could certainly be the big break as the team will bring back every member of their top five players including three juniors (Trenton Easley, Kyle Kesinger and Jordan McMillen), one sophomore (Anthony Harper) and one freshman (Keegan Easley).
Harper, who first picked up a golf club at the hands of his grandfather around the age of 10, made clear his passion for the game. He stated, “I give my opportunity to play golf to God and allowing me to play the game I love every day.” Both he and the team have taken advantage of that opportunity and ran with it.
As the team entered the SLIAC conference tournament on Monday, April 18, the Beavers were optimistic as they hit their stride in their previous tournament, placing third in the McNaughton Invitational in Jacksonville, Illinois, on April 10, and shooting a season-best 304 as a team.
The hopes of another championship were not the only thing tying the Beavers to the 2010 season, however, as their team score at the McNaughton Invitational (304) was the best score relative to par shot by Blackburn since that banner hanging season in 2010.
As the season drew to a close, the Blackburn men gave it their all in the SLIAC conference championship, earning a score of 917 and a second place finish. While that was their lowest team score since the tournament changed to a three-round format in 2002, they fell just short as Webster University held onto first place with a score of 897. Individually, Blackburn finished with four golfers in the top 20: Trenton Easley (4th), Keegan Easley (T-6th), Jordan McMillen (T-12th) and Anthony Harper (T-17th). While the Beavers came up short in their ultimate goal, they finished with a glimpse into what may be to come and most certainly built momentum for next season.