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Big Rapids, Mich. - Family, friends, supporters and alumni again showed strong support for the Ferris State University football program and their excitement for the upcoming 2014 campaign as the program recently held its 31st annual Bulldog Football Golf Outing at Clear Lake Golf Club in early June.
Another big turnout, which came on the heels of a record turnout at the same course two years ago, included a large number of former players and alumni for the annual fundraising event. The four-person shotgun golf scramble, which is hosted by the FSU Gridiron Club in conjunction with the Bulldog Athletic Association (BAA), serves as one of the Ferris State football program's primary fundraising events.
Those taking part in this year's event not only had an opportunity to play the 18-hole round, but were also treated to lunch prior to play, dinner after the event along with a banquet that featured raffle and auction prizes. A postgame gathering took place at the alumni-owned Buffalo Wild Wings location in Big Rapids. More than 25 teams and over 100 golfers were on hand for this year's outing.
One of the day's highlights came in the Player's Cup Division, where the tandem of alumni Chris Machalak, CJ Van Wieren, Nick Beaudry and Jeff Hollandsworth pulled out a close victory to end the longtime reign of previous trophy recipients Bill Scheible, John Baylis, Steve Duchon and Mark Sarver. The Player's Cup is annually awarded to the top team consisting of former Bulldog football players in the event.
Bulldog football head coach Tony Annese and his staff, along with a number of current student-athletes, were on hand throughout the event. Among the top auction items were several signed footballs from former Bulldog player and assistant coach Butch Jones, who's now the head coach at the University of Tennessee.
"It was a great day for the 31st annual event and exciting to again see so many former players back in Big Rapids," said Annese. "The alumni and supporters involved are a big part of the Ferris State football family and we thank them, along with our sponsors and the course, for all the support once again."
Ferris State wrapped up a successful 2013 campaign and the second season under Annese's direction last fall with a 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division standings. FSU narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years.
The Bulldogs' eight-win campaign last fall was the school's first since 2006 and only the second in the program's last 16 seasons. Additionally, Ferris State's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996. FSU's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996 and the Bulldogs beat rival Grand Valley State for the second consecutive year to hold onto possession of the Anchor-Bone Trophy.
Recently, FSU also inked a highly-regarded 35-member recruiting class on National Signing Day in February. The talented class of 33 prepsters and two Division I transfers came on the heels of a stellar class a year ago that was labeled as the best in the nation.
The Bulldogs will begin their 106th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on competing for a potential GLIAC Championship and a NCAA Division II Playoff berth after posting only the program's second eight-win season in the last 16 years during the 2013 campaign. FSU opens the 2014 campaign with a non-league contest at McKendree (Ill.) on Thursday, Sept. 4, before visiting Northwood for their GLIAC opener on Sept. 13 in Midland.
FSU's 2014 home opener at Top Taggart Field will be on Sept. 20 as the Bulldogs entertain archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (ET).
Below are winners from this year's golf outing:
Player's Cup - Chris Machalak, CJ Van Wieren, Nick Beaudry, Jeff Hollandsworth
Men's Division - John Sonntag, Bob Grunst, Dave Grunst and Dave Ash
Mixed Division - Ruth Hicks, Bill Taylor, Lauri Niskanen, Jim Niskanen