Van Winkle set for USI

From Herald Staff Reports

LINCOLN CITY — Preston Van Winkle understands that with any player-coach relationship, sometimes the partnership works and sometimes it doesn’t.

So when the Heritage Hills senior met Jim Cheaney, the men’s golf coach at the University of Southern Indiana, and Van Winkle sensed a connection, he acted accordingly. Van Winkle decided over the weekend to continue his golf career at Southern Indiana in the fall.

Van Winkle

With Cheaney, the third-year Screaming Eagles coach, Van Winkle felt “a click. Sometimes you click with people and sometimes you don’t. And I felt an instinct clicked the first time,” he said.

The decision fulfills a couple requisites Van Winkle eyed in the selection process, which he had narrowed down to USI and Evansville.

First and foremost, Van Winkle considered academics. Southern Indiana offered a sports management major he found suitable. And secondly, he wanted a golf program whose schedule furnishes ample competition.

“I don’t just want to play up-to-scale, good course,” said Preston, the son of Ken and Sara Van Winkle of Santa Claus. “I want to challenge and push myself to be the best that I can be.”

The prospect is enticing given Van Winkle’s strides this spring. He’s shot par or better in seven meets and nabbed medalist honors in eight matches so far this year, including a round of 70 at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet Saturday and another round of 34 against Corydon Central and Floyd Central on May 8, when Cheaney offered Van Winkle a spot on the USI team.

To boot, Van Winkle will get to attend school with his older brother, Cory, and one of his best friends and former teammates, Nick Teaford, a 2012 Heritage Hills graduate who hits the course with Van Winkle whenever they can.

Between the education, the competitiveness and a brother and a buddy share the experience with, the Division II school in Evansville “just played the best fit for me,” Van Winkle said.

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