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Big Rapids, Mich. - The back-to-back NCAA Division II National Quarterfinalist Ferris State University football program welcomed its largest crowd ever of family, friends, supporters and alumni for the 35th annual Bulldog Football Golf Outing at Clear Lake Golf Club this past Saturday (June 9).
The event featured a record-breaking turnout with an announced sellout several weeks in advance and it came on the heels of recent strong turnouts for the annual fundraising event. Nearly 130 former players were back for the event that included upwards of 160 total participants, helping build momentum for the upcoming 2018 campaign.
A contingent of former players and alumni competed in the four-person shotgun golf scramble, which is hosted by the FSU Gridiron Club in conjunction with the Bulldog Athletic Association (BAA) and 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.
One of the day's highlights came in the Player's Cup Division, where the quartet of alumni C.J. Van Wieren, Ryan Kaul, Jeff Hollandsworth and Chris Machalak successfully defended the Player's Cup Trophy awarded annually to the top team consisting of former Bulldog Football players.
Bulldog football head coach Tony Annese and his staff, along with a number of current student-athletes and returning starters, were on hand or competed throughout the event. Those who took part also had an opportunity to win raffle prizes and bid on several unique auction items.
"It's awesome and the biggest one we've ever had so that's exciting," said Annese. "The turnout says a lot about the support we're getting and how engaged our former players and alums are with our program. It means so much and we're thankful this many golfers have came out to support us."
The Bulldogs will begin their 110th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. FSU has made back-to-back NCAA Division II National Quarterfinal appearances and is one of only five teams in all of college football to win at least 11 games each of the past four years. The Bulldogs along with Northwest Missouri State are the only programs in Division II football to make the playoffs each of the past four seasons.
In six seasons under Annese, the Bulldogs have become a national power on the Division II level. FSU has posted a 60-14 overall mark in the last six years and the Bulldogs have also posted the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in the state of Michigan along with the GLIAC since his arrival. Last summer, Hero Sports picked FSU as Michigan's Best College Football program regardless of division.
Ferris State will return nearly 50 letterwinners for the 2018 campaign.
Below are the Golf Outing Winners:
Players Cup - C.J. Van Wieren, Ryan Kaul, Jeff Hollandsworth, Chris Machalak
Mixed - Bill Taylor, Ruth Hicks, Lauri Niskanen, Jim Niskanen
Men's - John Sonntag, Dave Ash, Bob Grunst, Dave Grunst