Golf Primed for Breakout Season
Colonials return all five players from last year's Atlantic 10 Tournament
WASHINGTON -- A week before the first tournament of his senior season, Vince Palazzolo paused when asked to describe the difference in the GW golf program between his freshman season and now.
A native of Colts Neck, New Jersey, Palazzolo has been a fixture in GW's lineup throughout his career since coming in alongside Jack Porcelli in fifth-year head coach Chuck Scheinost's first recruiting class. But contrary to the typical path of a collegiate golfer's career, Palazzolo pointed to how earning a starting spot in tournaments has become much more difficult as an upperclassmen than it was as an 18-year-old newcomer.
The reason? An influx of talent and the development of inter-squad competition, which has GW entering the 2017-18 season with high expectations. The Colonials return all five golfers who competed in the Atlantic 10 Championship in April, when GW led after round one before ultimately finishing fourth. Each of the three schools that finished ahead of GW - Richmond, VCU and Dayton - lose at least one player from their lineup.
"It's like night and day from my freshman year how far we've come," said Palazzolo. "From every day out at practice, the level of intensity that everybody brings, even the level of talent here, it's unbelievable. My freshman year there wasn't much competition as far as qualifying goes, or earning a spot, but now last year and coming into this year, it's unbelievable how well you have to play and really compete. You have to work hard if you want to earn a spot on the team and if you want to succeed."
That mindset and a veteran group includes Palazzolo and Porcelli, who along with redshirt senior Christian Cichan were picked as team captains. Junior Logan Lowe is also back to help have GW primed for a big season. In addition to that core four, sophomore Yoo Jin Kim, who played in the A-10 Tournament last year, returns with classmate Adrian Castagnola, while two talented freshmen join the mix in Stephen Brown (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Clifford Thompson (Broederstroom, South Africa).
Lowe is coming off back-to-back seasons that garnered a spot on the All Atlantic-10 Golf Team, and he picked up his first collegiate victory in March. After he and the rest of the team played their best golf in the spring, Lowe hopes everyone is able to carry that positive momentum into the fall.
"Every time you can add more competition to a team I think it makes you better," said Lowe. "Everything you can do to push yourself and get a little bit better is what you're looking for. Having two new guys plus the returning guys from last year, everyone wants to play well and everyone likes to compete, and that just helps push you as a player and push your team forward."
Porcelli echoed that sentiment, saying that the team has played its best golf in the spring before successfully building on that momentum the following semester.
"The past two, three years, we're starting to get momentum," said Porcelli. "What's interesting is I feel like through the years, we're kind of catching momentum at the end of the year and then building off that at the start of the next year, so I'm really excited for this season."
The Colonials' journey begins this Friday at the Air Force Falcon Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the first of five tournaments on the fall slate. Ultimately, GW hopes it will again play its best golf in the spring and reach new heights.
"Our ultimate goal is to win the conference championship and be competing at regionals," said Scheinost. "That's our ultimate goal, but it's one event at a time. We've got five events this fall to get better, and we've got six events in the spring, and we're excited about the journey."
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