Underclassmen take on bigger role
Mike Ginocchio | Wednesday, September 3, 2014
As Notre Dame tees off the 2014 season, it will rely on a strong group of underclassmen to build upon its successes last season and establish a tradition of tradition of consistent performance.
Sophomore Blake Barens said he’s ready for the challenge.
“I think the underclassmen should do a [fair amount] of the work this year for the team,” Barens said. “It looks like there will be at least three starting in every event. We’ve got three really good sophomores and one really good freshman, so if we get three of us playing well, we should be good to go.”The Irish got off to the right start for that to happen. Notre Dame opened up its fall season Sunday with a victory at the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge. The Irish beat IUPUI by 19 strokes and Ball State by 25 strokes.
“It feels like kind of the first step is done,” Barens said. “We wanted to win and expected to do well, and we are moving forward in the right direction. It was really about starting off the season in the right direction. We were more concerned where we shot than about the other teams, and we played really well which was really good for us to start out on because it gave us a lot of confidence.”
Barens said that confidence boost not only applied to himself but more importantly to the core of underclassmen developing in the wings.
“We are young, but it’s nice to see we are contributing a lot to the team,” Barens said. “To be successful as a team, we, as sophomores and freshmen, need to step up a lot, even though there is a lot riding on us, and we are up for the challenge.”
Luckily for the Irish underclassmen, they still have older mentors to learn from. Barens said the team will rely on the play and leadership of senior Patrick Grahek, who was named to the All-ACC Academic team last season.
“Pat is definitely a good role model,” Barens said. “He’s shown us that he does well in the classroom and on course. Last year as freshmen, he made us feel welcome and really added to the team aspect. He’s also playing really well on the course right now, which motivates us too.”
However, while it is important to develop a good team camaraderie, Barens said he recognizes that, at the end of the day, only one person is responsible for the success of a golfer: himself.
“For this fall, I think the focus is more on the individual,” Barens said. “We need to not get too caught up on team because the individual golf game is important [as well.]”
The Irish resume play at the Gopher Invitational on Sunday at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn.