FAIRBORN — Mikkel Mathiesen already had a smooth golf swing when he arrived at Wright State. That’s a big reason why coach Brian Arlinghaus took a chance on the sophomore from Denmark after just a few get-acquainted phone calls and emails.
But Mathiesen has made a gargantuan jump this spring because he’s mastered the mental side of the game, which is never easy even for seasoned players.
“He’s always been intense, but what he and I have been working on is trying to find his head space where he can be intense, but also be relaxed and having fun,” Arlinghaus said. “When his intensity ramps up and something doesn’t go his way, he’d kind of get wrapped around the axil a little bit and create a bunch of tension.
“One of his ‘process’ goals — which I make these guy submit every week — is ‘be happier on the golf course.’ He’s found it. And lo and behold, it’s paying off.”
Mathiesen (pronounced MATH-eh-son) showed promise his freshman year in 2020, which was cut short by the pandemic. And the stellar play from him and his fellow Raiders this season has made Arlinghaus happier on the course, too.
They obliterated a six-team field at Northern Kentucky’s two-day event this week at Lassing Points G.C. in Union, Ky., setting a tourney record in the first round and winning by 28 strokes.
Mathiesen shot 65-70 to earn medalist honors for the second time in his career. And the Raiders were so dominant that they took six of the top-seven places — that’s their five-man team plus another player who competed as an individual.
But while Arlinghaus was pleased with the results, he made a statement that should send shudders around the Horizon League, which will be contested April 25-27 in West Lafayette, Ind.
“The crazy part is, we think we could have gone deeper. We could’ve definitely played better,” he said. “It sounds pretty arrogant to say, but we didn’t play the par-5s all that great, and we didn’t chip very well.
“If everything comes together for this team, it’s going to be a sight to see.”
Mathiesen’s spring scoring average is 71.8, while Austin Schoonmaker is at 72.8, Cam Willis 73.0, Tyler Goeke 73.25, Davis Root 74.2, Bryce Haney 75.2 and Cole Corder 76.25.
Schoonmaker, a senior from Springboro, is almost three full shots better than he was during the last uninterrupted season in 2019, which ended with the program’s first league title in 15 years.
Arlinghaus can only choose five players for most events (four scores count each day), which makes for some agonizing decisions.
“Every year, we say to the guys, ‘Go separate yourself. Don’t make me pick,’” he said. “This year, even though the quality of play has gotten better, I’ve still got to pick because I’ve got seven guys who are (regularly shooting) sub-75. If you had a 75 average in 2019, you were in the lineup.”
Mathiesen went 51 consecutive holes without a bogey until finishing the NKU event with one. And the Raiders, who were unanimous preseason HL favorites, are surrounding him with a core of veterans.
“Their work ethic is ridiculously good. They all want a piece of the action. And when your leaders are your hardest workers, everyone follows suit,” Arlinghaus said.
The Raiders have two events before the league tourney: the Flyer Invitational at NCR and the 16-team Wright State Invitational at Heatherwoode.
“As a coach, everything we do, every tournament we have, I try to find something to sharpen our blade a little bit for the Horizon League championships,” Arlinghaus said.
Volleyball: The top-seeded Raiders (15-1) advanced to the HL title match with a 3-0 sweep of Purdue Fort Wayne in the semifinals. They’ll face second-seeded UIC (14-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday in McLin Gym.
The two finalists didn’t meet during the regular season. Wright State made its first trip to the NCAA tourney last season and could claim the league’s automatic berth with a win.
Baseball: The Raiders had their program-record 12-game conference winning streak snapped at Youngstown State last weekend.
They lost three of four games but actually outscored the Penguins in the series, 40-35. Their lone win was a 20-8 thrashing — their most runs in a game since a 25-0 victory over Wilmington in 2013.
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