Cal State Northridge has two huge challenges awaiting them as they open up the 2011-12 season Monday at the St. Mary's Invitational. The first, winning the Big West Championship, may be tough but the second, replacing Nick Delio, may be even even tougher.
Delio, a two-time All-American, four-time first team All-Big West player and arguably the finest golfer in school history, graduated in 2010 as the Big West Conference Player of the Year. The rock of the Matador lineup for the past four years is attempting to qualify for the PGA Tour this fall.
The Matadors, who have never finished higher than third in any of their previous 10 Big West Championship appearances, are seeking their first conference title of any kind since winning the Big Sky Conference Championship in 2000. In trying to win their elusive first Big West crown in 2011-12, CSUN will lean heavily on junior Chris Russo and senior Jason Rosenkranz.
Russo, a senior from Westlake, Calif., finished second to Delio is scoring the last two years compiling an impressive 73.90 scoring average in the process. He also had a pair of top-10 finishes and four top-20 finishes as a sophomore in 2010-11. Rosenkranz, a senior who has three seasons under his belt but redshirted in 2011-12, brings a career scoring average of 76.0 into his final season.
"Without a doubt those two guys are going to have to lead us this season," said head coach Jim Bracken who is entering his 26th season. "You can't replace a player like Nick, but I think Chris and Jason will be up to the challenge of leading this team."
Senior Matt Siporin, who finished the 2010-11 season with a solid 75.1 stroke average in 27 tournaments, will redshirt the 2011-12 season leaving sophomore Ryan Green and Sebastien Domingo as the only other players on the roster with any collegiate experience.
"Having to replace Nick in addition to three others who competed in conference last year is going to be a challenge but I'm always optimistic," said Bracken.
Green, a sophomore from Henderson, Nev., competed in four tournaments as a freshman compiling a 75.3 scoring average. Green has one top-10 finish when he placed eighth at Northridge's Bill Cullum Invitational last October. Domingo, a senior from Geneva, Switzerland, has battled injuries for much of his Matador career. He played in just one tournament last season.
"Ryan plays really well in tournaments so we're expecting him to contribute more this season," said Bracken. "If Sebastien can stay healthy he can provide much needed depth for us. The other guys on the roster are untested so our depth and experience will be a challenge we'll have to overcome."
"Steven has a lot of talent and a ton of tour experience," said Bracken. "Richard, and the team, will get better and better as we get some tournaments under under our belt."
The Matadors will tee up the 2011-12 season with the first of three rounds at the St. Mary's Invitational on Monday. The tournament is being held at the picturesque Bayonet and Blackhorse courses near Monterey. The fall portion of the schedule also includes the Cal Poly Firestone Grill Invitational (Oct. 2-3), the Wildcat Invitational in Layton, Utah (Oct. 10-11) and CSUN's annual Cullum Invitational (Oct. 17-18) which will be held at Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley.
The spring season opens Feb. 13 at the Pat Hicks Thunderbird Invitational in St. George, Utah. The Matadors will then compete at the North Ranch Invitational (Feb. 27-28), the Fresno State Lexus Classic (Mar. 5-6), the OGIO Santa Barbara Invitational (Apr. 2-3), the ASU Thunderbird Invitational (Apr. 6-7), the Wyoming Cowboy Classic (Apr. 9-10) and the Anteater Invitational (Apr. 23-24) before capping the schedule at the Big West Championship (Apr. 30-May 2) which will be held at La Quinta G.C.
"I'm not expecting miracles this season," said Bracken. "But we will challenge in every tournament we play."
- GO MATADORS -