Knights win big at OCAA golf championships

When the final scores were tallied at the 2015 OCAA Golf Championships on September 30, the host Niagara College Knights found themselves atop the podium of three of the event’s four divisions, capturing gold medals in the men’s team, men’s individual (Evan Littlefield), and women’s individual (Lorelle Weavers) divisions.

The Knights men’s team consists of Evan Littlefield (Thunder Bay), Josiah Dixon (Bognor), Mark Wikkerink (Trenton), Logan Lammerant (Seaforth), and Zack Bankuti (Brampton). Littlefield, Lammerant, Dixon, and Bankuti are enrolled in the Niagara College professional golf management program, while Wikkerink is enrolled in the culinary program.

Playing their home course, the Knights men’s team stormed out of the gates posting an even par 280 to open the three day event. The closest competitor after day one was the nine-time defending OCAA champion Humber Hawks who trailed by 14 stokes. Day two proved much more challenging for Niagara, as the Hawks closed to within three strokes, setting the stage for a final round showdown between the clear cut top-two teams in the province.

Evan LittlefieldFor the final round of competition, the top-three teams would see all five golfers grouped into threesomes with the five members of the two other teams atop the leaderboard. The Knights and Hawks stood 18 and 21 strokes ahead of the third place Durham Lords, essentially making the men’s team competition a two-horse race.

“We approached day three like match play,” said Niagara College golf head coach Cameron Thin. “We knew we had to match or better a very tough opponent in Humber, and to a man our team battled hard and came away with the win.”

The Knights and Hawks traded shots all afternoon, but when the final strokes were tallied the Knights emerged as OCAA Team Champions for the first time since 1975. The team was victorious by the narrowest of margins finishing with a team total of 866, just one stroke better than Humber.

“I’m so proud of our entire team,” continued Thin. “We had an amazing meeting heading into the final day, and to a person never once did anyone ask or think about themselves, it was always about the team victory.”

The men’s individual field was led from start to finish by a Niagara Knights golfer. Eventual gold medal winner Evan Littlefield however was unaware of just how well he had performed until the final threesome finished play. He entered the final day three strokes back of teammate Dixon.

The fourth year native of Thunder Bay played in the second last group of the afternoon, carding a 1-under (69), giving him the only under-par score of the day in challenging high wind conditions.  The former University of Mexico Lobo, posted improving scores in each of his three rounds (73, 70, 69) for a total of 212(+2), two strokes better than runner up Scott Benzoni of the Humber Hawks.  “It’s an amazing feeling,” said Littlefield after being informed of his individual victory. “We set the goal this year of winning the team championship, and we did. The individual medal is just a bonus.”

Thin heaped high praise on the veteran from northern Ontario, “his mindset for golf is almost perfect. Whatever he shoots on any given day is 100% the best he had out on that course. He’s a real competitor and I’m proud he took the individual championship.”

The women’s side saw Burlington native Lorelle Weavers resume her quest for an elusive OCAA Championship. Weavers’ 2014 dream season included three individual tournament championships, a CCAA All-Canadian Selection, and a CCAA individual national championship, by she was forced to accept a silver medal at provincials.

The former Chicago State University Cougar standout carded 75 and 76 to open the event, trailing by two strokes heading into the final day of competition. High winds plagued the majority of the field throughout the day, but Weavers never faltered posting a third round 75. She was forced to wait for nearly 60 minutes while 36-hole leader Emilie Tyndall completed her round. Tyndall eventually posted an 81, giving the Lester B Person High School graduate Weavers the 2015 OCAA gold medal.

“Lorelle is a player with a beautiful golf mindset that knows exactly what to do in all situations on the course,” said Coach Thin in an interview after the event. “Her distance was a real difference maker in today’s wind. Add in her outstanding ball striking and all her hard work paid off this week.”

During the awards ceremony following the event, Weavers and Littlefield were also named 2015 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association All-Canadians. The two golfers represent the eighth and ninth Niagara College student-athletes to earn the prestigious accolade. Additionally, this marks the second consecutive year Weavers has captured the award, the first ever two-time recipient in Knights’ history.

“The entire Niagara Knights family is very proud of Evan, Lorelle, and our Men’s golf team,” said Niagara College Director of Athletics and Recreation Matthew Davies.  “These student-athletes are individuals that tirelessly dedicate themselves to achieving results at the provincial and national levels. Their accomplishments this season could not have happened to a more deserving group of people. We will continue to wish them the best of luck at the upcoming National Championships.”

Weavers and all five members of the Niagara College men’s golf team will conclude their season at the 2015 CCAA Golf Championship being hosted by the University of the Fraser Valley at the Chilliwack Golf Club from October 13-16.

Pictured above, left: Lorelle Weavers. Right: Evan Littlefield.

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