Wright State golf coach Brian Arlinghaus knows he doesn’t have to venture far for recruits to field a competitive team. The Raiders won their first Horizon League title last spring with two players from Dayton and three other Ohioans within a two-hour driving distance from the campus.
That’s why he had some reservations when he first heard from a high school player from Esbjerg, Denmark with aspirations of playing in the U.S. Mikkel Mathiesen (Meh-KELL MATH-ess-son) had thrived on the European junior circuit — and his swing looked flawless online — but Arlinghaus only wants to add golfers who can blend in with the program’s blue-collar culture.
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“I wasn’t going to jump at someone across the pond not knowing if he’d fit in,” the third-year coach said. “There were several Skype and FaceTime sessions with him and his parents, just trying to feel him out. Once my gut told me this kid fits in, it seemed like a no-brainer.”
Mathiesen not only has meshed well with his new teammates, but he’s quickly become one of the Raiders’ best players.
In the first event of the fall season, he finished 3-under par to help the Raiders shatter the 54-hole program record by six strokes with a 14-under score at the Marshall Invitational.
He shot the team’s lowest single round (5-under 67) as the Raiders captured the 15-team Crusader Collegiate at Valparaiso, their first regular-season win in four years.
And he was the team medalist at Davidson on Sept. 23-24, helping the Raiders finish fifth in a field of 15.
Arlinghaus certainly didn’t expect such an immediate impact.
“He hits the ball really— REALLY — straight off the tee. That sets you up for hitting a lot of greens in regulation. If you hit a lot of greens, all you have to do is make a couple of putts. When he begins to putt as well as I think he can, he’ll be a great player,” Arlinghaus said.
Mathiesen hasn’t finished outside of the top 17 in any of the three tourneys and is second on the team with a 71.4 average, just behind senior star Austin Schoonmaker’s 71.3.
Junior Bryce Haney, who finished second in the league tourney last season, is averaging 71.9, and Tyler Goecke, another freshman standout, is at 72.4.
Goecke, a Carroll grad, landed at Wright State in a more conventional way.
“He’s from our backyard, and I’d been on him for a while,” Arlinghaus said. “I knew a lot of the bigger programs would overlook him because of his size. He’s about 130 pounds soaking wet and 5-9 or 5-8. But the dude can hit the ball through a thimble. And he’s probably one of the better putters I’ve ever seen.”
The two newcomers have seized spots in the five-player lineup even though the Raiders graduated only one starter.
“We’re a better team than we were last year, and we were good last year,” Arlinghaus said.
The Raiders have two more fall season events: the Cleveland State tourney next week and the Dayton Flyer Invitational Oct. 14-15 at NCR Country Club.
VOLLEYBALL: The Raiders have set a program record for consecutive wins in the Division I era (since 1988) with 13 in a row after sweeping two league foes last weekend. The all-time winning streak is 16, set in 1985.
BASKETBALL: The fifth-annual Raider Tipoff Premier is Saturday, Oct., 12, at the Nutter Center. Men’s coach Scott Nagy and women’s coach Katrina Merriweather will be the speakers, and fans will get a chance to interact with the players.
VIP tickets are $115 and general admission costs $70. Doors open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. For info, call Gary Dillabaugh at (937) 775-4936.
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