The Manhattan College turnover started in spring ‘14 when it said goodbye to seniors Chris Calabro, its captain; Paul Toohey; and Jonathan Feuer. Veteran leadership responsibilities were automatically handed down to Mike Giannico, James Edgeworth and Ross Ketner. They were set to be role-models to the incoming freshman class of Ryan Lynch, Johnny Schob, Charles Seward and Jonny Slater.
The following spring, Manhattan added Jon Keyes, a Coastel Carolina transfer. He helped lead the team to a seventh place finish in the MAAC championship tournament. A more noticeable change came a week later: Jerry Wood, head golf coach of four years, announced his retirement.
Wood declined to comment on his decision to retire, how well off he thinks he left the team and his thoughts on how the MAAC will shape-out this season.
In the middle of the summer, Frank Darby, now former St. John’s University head golf coach, was named to Wood’s vacated position. Darby spent the last 20 years of his coaching career at St. John’s. A place where he made six NCAA Regional appearances; coached the likes of Keegan Bradley, ‘11 PGA Champion, and Andrew Svoboda, Ryder Cup member; and was awarded ‘14 Big East Coach of the Year.
“I like Manhattan’s history and traditions,” Darby said. “And I definitely like the academic mission, it’s similar to St. John’s. Wood did a nice job to put them in a position where I felt I could come in and, hopefully, get them to the next level.”
Peter Falloon, head golf coach of back-to-back MAAC champion Saint Peter’s, said despite losing three of his top five players to graduation. His recruitment of freshmen Jose Cardona, JD Moore and Mike Winter coupled with the returns of two other key upperclassman has him thinking his team is the one to beat, again.
“We’ll still be top-tier,” Falloon said, “and probably right now we’re as good as anybody in the conference. I wouldn’t predict a victory. It’ll be very, very competitive for the championship this year. Looking at the other rosters, none of the other teams are going to be head and shoulders above us.”
“What has made us successful is the combination of putting us in the best tournaments around, playing on the best courses and exposing my players to professional golfers that have won championships. This philosophy has attracted better players, without that we’re not able to win anything.”
With Saint Peter’s finishing fifth, the best showing amongst MAAC teams, at the Rutgers Invitational — first tournament of the fall — and Manhattan 13th. Falloon’s prediction seems not too far off. However, a source in the MAAC said, Manhattan or Iona may be one of the surprise teams this year and Rider may be better. And that some teams will fall off, such as Fairfield.
“Coach Wood, I had him for just one semester, he was a great coach, a great guy,” Keyes said. “Coach Darby came in, and he’s doing a great job getting us out on some great places, some real good practice facilities. He’s got some connections in the metropolitan area, it’s really helping us as a team a lot. If we all could just a get a little bit more consistent, we’re going to be able to shoot well. We could maybe win a few tournaments.”
“The program is going to be powerhouse soon,” Lynch said. “We’re on our way. But overall, we need to work on our course management and to stay away from the big numbers.”
- Darby had this to say about what he tried to accomplish at St. John’s, and wants to bring over to Manhattan: “When I was at St. John’s we worked really, really hard on our team chemistry. All the guys are still best friends. They saw how much I cared about them, and it kind of wore off on them too where they cared about each other as well. Hopefully I get to be a good role-model for them. They see how hard I work for them and consequently they work hard on, not only their golf games, but also community service, academic and time management, which is what it’s all about.”