Joel Pietel made history this weekend when he became the first Charger to win the GLIAC men’s golf individiaul championship. (Photo: Marcus Thatcher / Courtesy)

Sophomore Joel Pietila is the first-ever GLIAC Golf Championship individual winner for the Hillsdale College golf program.

In what was a rough weekend for the entire field, Pietila took the victory by shooting a four-over-par 220. He bested the second place finisher by two strokes.

“Obviously, Joel is a tremendous player,” head coach Nathan Gilchrist said. “You can’t win at this level without being great.”

The golf team took seventh place in the GLIAC Golf Championship. The team shot 928, leaving them 38 strokes behind the winner, Grand Valley State University. The tournament was played from Friday, April 21 to Sunday, April 23 at the Virtues Golf Club in Newport, Ohio.

Sophomores Liam Purslowe, Andrew Grayson, Peter Beneteau and junior Joe Torres also competed in the tournament.

Torres shot 229 and tied for 20th place as an individual.

“Joe had a pretty solid showing,” Gilchrist said. “He plays with no fear, and he is a lot of fun to watch move around the golf course.”

Over the three-day tournament, Pietila shot 72, 76, and 72.

“I knew I’d be close, but I didn’t think that number would win it,” Pietila said.

The score ended up being enough for the victory, due to the tough conditions.

Pietila said that while the individual victory is “really cool,” it’s not his focus.

“What I’m really excited about looking forward is a team victory,” Pietila said. “It’s way more important for me.”

Gilchrist agreed.

“Even as great as Joel’s victory was, I think everyone would have liked to finish with a chance to win the championship.”

This was the last GLIAC Championship for the golf team, since Hillsdale is switching to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference next year.

Pietila said the team is really excited about the switch.

“It gives us a better chance to win. We feel like we can compete with Grand Valley, but we just don’t have the same resources they do,” Pietila said. “This gives us better chances to make it to super regionals.”

Gilchrist said the team will approach golf the same next year, despite the change.

“Nothing will change on our end, we will still prepare and work hard for every tournament,” Gilchrist said. “The players will improve their weaknesses and maintain their strengths.”

Pietila said the team would have needed to take first place in the GLIAC Championship to make super regionals this year, but they fell short.

While Pietila said he hopes for more victories as a team, he is happy with what he won last weekend.

“If I don’t win anything else after this, then I’m still eternally gratefully,” Pietila said.