Kovaleski makes his name as season winds down

Jonathan Lowe

By the middle of next week, the ISU men’s golf team will have completed their fall 2001 schedule.

Going into the Baylor Invitational, Wisconsin native Jeremy Lyons leads the team with an average of 72.75 strokes per round.

However, another Wisconsin player is making a name for himself in his first semester of college golf.

Freshman Chad Kovaleski has played in two of the first three tournaments of the season, including last week’s Big Four Championship.

The native of New Richmond, Wis. has toted an average of 76.4 strokes over the five rounds of competition he has taken part in.

Coming in, Kovaleski’s credentials were fairly solid.

He won two state championships in high school and has competed in several national events.

However, it may be his transition into collegiate golf that will help him through his career.

“The biggest adjustment [you have] is that you’re the kingpin of your school, and when you hit college, you’re not the best on your team,” ISU coach Jay Horton said.

“Once he had a little taste of success and competed with the upperclassmen, he grew some confidence. He’s continuing to learn.”

One thing that both Horton and Lyons said helped Chad’s success was his academic studies.

“The thing that’s a lot tougher is the actual school part of it,” Lyons said. “He puts in a lot of time for [academics].”

On the course, the coach credits Kovaleski’s fast rise to his ability to stick to improving.

“He had a good work ethic coming here, [and now] he addresses his weaknesses every single day,” Horton said. “He works too hard at it to say that any progression [he makes] is going to be slow.”

The veteran golfers are helping Kovaleski get used to college golf as best they can. However, he and Lyons share the most common bond as fellow statemen.

“I knew him pretty well coming in,” said the junior from Glenwood City. “I played about five or six times with him in high school. My junior year, we were in the same conference in high school.”

Lyons says that he helps to teach Kovaleski all that he can, but that there are attributes to his game that make him stand out among the other Cyclones.

“The most important thing he brings [to this team] is a sense of calmness,” he said. “He’s never really up or down.”

That steady mentality is also a relaxing element to him when he’s not on the links.

“He’s got a definite laid back personality,” Horton said. “He knows when to work and when to have fun.”

With the season coming to an end, Horton expressed optimism for the young golfer, even though he thought Kovaleski would make an immediate impact.

“I think good things will happen in the future,” he said.

“His first tournament, he had very average scores, and to improve as much as he has is outstanding . If I’ve seen this scale of improvement over the first two months, I’m anxious to see the amount of improvement that will come in the next four years.”