As Austin Gaugert walked off the course for the last time as a collegiate golfer, the Valparaiso senior felt more satisfied than anything else.
Gaugert shot a team-best 74 Saturday during the final round at the NCAA Columbus Regional as the Crusaders finished in last place at the Scarlet Course.
Valparaiso finished with 927 strokes over the three-day tournament, 12 strokes behind 12th place Georgia Southern and 57 stokes behind regional champion New Mexico.
“This was an awesome experience and something I’ll definitely never forget,” Gaugert said. “We didn’t even know what was in the cards when we came here four years ago and to get to the NCAA tournament is very satisfying.”
Gaugert is one of five seniors, along with Chesterton’s Josh Kalita, that helped relaunch the program as freshmen four years ago.
“These guys were the founding fathers of the program,” Valparaiso coach David Gring said. “The culture that those guys brought to the team has been great. We’ll certainly miss the five seniors.”
Thomas Wettstein was the only Valparaiso golfer with multiple birdies and double bogeys on Saturday as the junior had two birdies in his first nine holes.
Wettstein then double bogeyed the first two holes after the turn, only to respond with back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh holes of the course.
Wettstein and Kyle Henning were the only two underclassmen to golf for the Crusaders this weekend and both ended their final rounds by shooting 80.
“The younger guys are excited and obviously want to do the same next year and get back to the tournament,” Gring said. “It was great for us to play with top-level teams. This was just a tremendous experience for our program.”
The Crusaders were grouped with the top individual golfers for the second straight day and Gaugert was thankful for the experience.
“We were able to see that next tier of golfer and we were able to play with some of the top-ranked kids in the country,” Gaugert said.
“This was by far the toughest course we’ve played all year and the competition wasn’t even close. It was just the best experience we’ve had all year.”