It is never easy to follow in the footsteps of a top athlete, it's even more difficult when that athlete is a sibling.
That's the task for Vancouver Island University Mariners men's golfer Mike Hrabowych, 21, when it comes to his older brother Kristian, 24. On the weekend, he took his best shot at filling those shoes in the first tournament of the Pacific Western Athletic Association season, firing a 3-over-147 to finish in a tie for fourth at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville.
It was just one of several top performance from VIU that earned them second overall in the men's and women's team competition. Mariners freshman Dallas Jones tied for second while fourth-year senior Matt Haddad also claimed a top 10 spot, tying for eighth at 5-over-149. In the women's division, all four VIU golfers finished in the top 10 - Kalli Gordon fifth (24-over-168), Hannah Diamond sixth, Marie Hohn eighth and Chloe Elston ninth.
For Hrabowych the season could not have started any better.
"It's always been tough growing up behind Kristian as he's a great golfer and it's always been kind of a goal in the back of my mind to be as good or better," he Mike. "It's been really hard to chase him all these years and then being on the same team the last three years, there's always been a lot of pressure to keep up with him and the other guys. With him leaving, now I really need to step it up an make sure there's a good Hrabowych presence on the team."
It was a busy summer for the young Hrabowych, who spent most of it working two jobs. He didn't golf a whole lot, but tried to cram as much training into the last three weeks leading up to the season.
The Nanaimo native was working part time at Morningstar as pro shop assistant and then he spent much of the rest of his time interning full time at Integral Wealth Management.
However, once he focused on preparing for the golf season, he was fully committed, sneaking in as much time on the course or range as possible.
Whatever he did, it worked, especially in his short game.
"He's playing better this year than he has in the past," said Mariners coach Kevin Oates.
While Hrabowych does have one more year of eligibility after this season, he is hoping he will not have to use it, as he goes into the financial and investment sector. He says he is already working on his portfolio.
For this year, at least, he will be looked to as one of the leaders on the team, along with fellow fourth-senior Haddad.
One of the youngest on the team, Jones, had a debut to remember, finishing just two strokes behind Will Deck out of UBCOkanagan for first place.
"He's very steady, he doesn't miss-hit a lot of shots and he hits it pretty straight and pretty hard," said Oates.
"He's just got to stay in the moment and not get ahead of himself, which is really easy to do for young players to start thinking ahead. If we can control that I think we'll all benefit from that."
Jones, 18, said the key was just to keep the ball straight off the tee, setting up a solid second shot or approach. He also benefited from a solid two days around and on the green, holing out twice from the bunker.
"I wasn't sure what to expect, I knew I was playing well but I didn't know what the competition would be like," said the Ladysmith Secondary School grad. "Second I thought was pretty good for my first tournament."
Jones built a solid resume on the Zone 6 tour as a junior golfer, winning several tournaments. Hrabowych, saw plenty of the young star on that tour and is impressed with the start he had to his college career.
"I know he's got game and I know he's very good, to see him go out and shoot those numbers, I wasn't shocked, I was pleased," he said. "I know he can shoot those numbers, but to see him do it was phenomenal."
Oates is thrilled with the overall performance of the group. Coming off a PacWest bronze medal and a trip to the Canadian College Athletic Association championships for the men's team last year, he was prepared for the program to take a step back after losing their top two golfers PacWest allstar Morgan Deckschiemer and Kristian Hrabowych, respectively. But that does not appear to be the case. They are now just three strokes behind the first place University of Fraser Valley Cascades.
"We were hoping to be competitive, but I didn't think we were going to finish as well as we did, so it's very exciting for the program going forward," said Oates. "We have everything important to play for now."
The PacWest shifts to the Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna this weekend for the UBC-O hosted tournament, the second of four events in the golf season.
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