DANIELS — When most athletes prepare for an upcoming competition, they’ll spend some time scouting their opponents, searching for weaknesses to exploit. For Fairmont State junior golfer Marco Oliverio, his strategy is a bit different.
“This year I’ve taken a new approach to playing - I just try and beat the golf course instead of worrying about my opponents. I’ve done good at managing my game like that, and most of these other golfers will beat themselves - I just have to let them fall back,” he said.
Oliverio - a Bridgeport native - looks to lead the Falcons into battle today as they begin the 2019 Mountain East Conference Tournament at The Resort at Glade Springs. He nabbed a fifth-place finish on the same course during the Glade Springs Intercollegiate Invitational earlier this fall - tying Concord’s Brett Laxton for the best performance among MEC golfers - and is expected to contend for the individual crown. “I feel really good. I’ve been putting in a lot of time and doing the right things and I think I have a good chance of bringing it home this year. I’ve been there before and I’ve been able to win, and I feel well prepared,” he said.
“I think he needs to continue what he’s been doing. He plays very consistent, smart golf - he doesn’t need to push for extra distance, he has a very dependable short game, and he has a lot of maturity in his decision making,” Fairmont head coach Sarah Yost added.
Yost hopes the men’s team will also compete for a championship at the event, as they look to knock off two-time defending champion Charleston. A team win earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division 2 Atlantic Regional Tournament in the spring.
“As a team we have to play smart golf for three days. Anytime you have two freshmen playing at a conference tournament course management and maturity is always a question, but they don’t play like freshmen. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing we’ll be fine,” Yost said.
“I think we’re very well prepared. We just can’t have any big numbers this weekend - if we play smart and don’t beat ourselves, there’s no reason we shouldn’t win. We have the talent for sure,” Oliverio added.
Fairmont State women’s golf enters the MEC Tournament with a young team that has spent a season trying to find itself on the links - head coach Sarah Yost hopes that they can translate that development into a strong finish this week.
“We’re hoping for a finish in the top-half of the field. We also have a younger team with two freshman starting and I’d expect a middle of the conference finish,” she said.
“We have to make the top sox to make the cut after two-rounds. If we can keep it in the fairway and manage our short game we will be fine,” added junior Sidney Brill.
Brill is one athlete on the team Yost expects can slide into contention for medalist honors, and said the opening round will likely set the tone for how the 54-hole, three-day tournament goes.
“I’m feeling pretty confident. I’m coming off a good weekend last week and I’m feeling good. I’ve played this course all throughout high school and college so I’m familiar with it - I just have to go out and perform,” Brill said.
“Confidence is definitely key and if I get off on the right foot I feel like I can do it again the next two days. Right now the course is dry from weather conditions so I just have to figure out where I need to place the ball.”