One of the longest tenured coaches at Western Illinois University, head men's golf coach Mel Blasi is in his 15th season in charge of the Leathernecks. Under Blasi's leadership, Western has been a perennial challenger in the Summit League and the Leathernecks will look to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2011-12, Blasi and the Leathernecks placed in the top-three twice, including a second-place finish at their annual home event, the Beu/Mussatto Invitational. The team third-place finish came in the Detroit Titans Invitational. Individually, senior Kurt Slattery finished first in the Detroit Titans Invitational, carding the team's lowest score of the year, a 209, including a 66 in his third round of the invite, which was also the team's low-round of the season. Other Leathernecks to place in the top-five were Andrew Godfrey and Ben Kilborn. Godfrey finished tied for second in the Beu Mussatto Invitational with a three-round score of 213 (70, 73, 70), while Kilborn placed tied for fourth in The Summit League championships with a 211 (73, 69, 69).
In 2010-11, Western was able to defend its home course with a victory at Beu/Mussatto Invitational. Andrew Godfrey collected his first individual medal during the home event with a 143 (69,74). Godfrey was also named Summit League Golfer of the Week on March 30 for his performance during the Beu/Mussatto Invitational. Tim Harwood started the fall with a fourth place finish at the Fairway Invitational hosted by the University of Nebraska. Kurt Slattery was the top finisher at The Summit League Championship with a 225 (79,74,72) to tied for 14th. The low round of the season came during the second round at the Championships with a 291 as every Leatherneck turned in rounds with scores in the 70s. As a team, the Leathernecks turned in a three-round season low of 882 (294,294,294) at the F&M Bank APSU Intercollegiate in the fall.
In 2009-10, the Leathernecks placed in the top three spots in nine out of 12 tournaments, including a win in the Beu/Mussatto Invitational and a third-place finish in The Summit League Tournament. The program tied a record by having four players named All-Summit League as seniors Kyle Peterman and Brian Scott both earned first team honors while senior Jake Weeber and sophomore Andrew Godfrey were both named to the second team.
At the Summit League Tournament, Weber and Scott placed third and fourth respectively to earn All-Championship honors. Peterman, who led The Summit League with a stroke average of 71.5 per round, was selected to participate in the NCAA Regional as an at-large qualifier.
Blasi's 2008-09 squad took tournament wins at both the Carlton Oaks Invitational and the Branson Creek Invitational to highlight a season that saw the Leathernecks place in the top four in nine out of 12 tournaments with eight top-three finishes. Western broke a streak of three consecutive Summit League championships in 2008-09, but the Leathernecks still managed to take home a third place finish at the conference championship. Blasi also coached Peterman to a third place individual finish at the 2008-09 Summit League Championship to earn first-team All-Summit League honors for the second-straight season while Weeber was named the league's newcomer of the year. Peterman also qualified to play in the 2009 U.S. Open following his junior season.
During the 2007-08 season, Blasi coached Western to the team's third consecutive Summit League Title and was named conference 'Coach of the Year' for the fourth time, breaking Harry Mussatto's record for most all-time at WIU. Peterman took the 2008 Summit League 'Player of the Year' award after winning the individual conference title in a playoff. Peterman joined 2007 Mid-Continent Conference 'Player of the Year' Tim Streng as the second Leatherneck to earn the conference's top individual honor under Blasi's tutelage.
In 2007-08 Blasi's Leathernecks overcame a three-stroke deficit entering the final round of the Summit League Championships to win the team's third-straight conference crown. Western shot a tournament-low 280 on the last day to beat out second-place finisher UMKC by 10 strokes. The Leathernecks also won the Beu/Mussatto Invitational in the spring of 2008.
The 2006-07 Leathernecks shot a tournament-low 283 in the second round of the Mid-Con Championships, leading the team to an eventual one-stroke victory over second-place finisher Oral Roberts. In the spring, the Leathernecks also took first place finishes at the Billiken Invitational and the Beu/Mussatto Invitational.
Western nearly qualified for the NCAA National Championships, finishing 16th in the NCAA Regionals defeating such teams as: Oklahoma, Colorado, SMU and Purdue. Blasi also made history during the 2006-07 season by becoming the first WIU coach to guide a player to All-America honors as Streng brought home the award. He stood among the 'Top 15' nationally after the first three rounds (208) but due to the format did not participate in the fourth and final round.
In the fall of 2005, Blasi guided the Leathernecks to three tournament titles, including a win at the Hawkeye Intercollegiate over Big Ten powers Michigan and Iowa. Under Blasi, Western Illinois earned GolfStat, Inc.'s top regional ranking and a No. 3 national ranking for stroke average in December 2005.
The success of the 2005-06 season brought national attention to Macomb, as Golfweek named the Leatherneck season one of its top-10 stories of the year. A 13-stroke Mid-Continent Tournament championship marked the first of three consecutive conference titles.
Blasi earned his first 'Coach of the Year' award after the 2003-04 season, when he guided the Leathernecks to their first Mid-Con Championship since 1987, Blasi's senior year with the Leathernecks.
From 1984-88, Blasi played for the legendary Harry Mussatto at Western, earning all-conference honors each of his three seasons as a Leatherneck. He was named Mid-Con 'Player of the Year' in 1985 after capturing the Mid-Con's individual championship. In 1987, he received a bachelor of science degree from Western Illinois.
Following graduation, Blasi coached the Leatherneck golf team for two years, from 1988-90. Blasi then left coaching to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Las Vegas, Nev. After returning home Blasi earned his Master's Degree from Southern Illinois-Carbondale (1995) and assisted with the SIU Saluki women's team.
Blasi's teams have collected a total of 19 all-conference honors during the last seven seasons, more than any other team in the conference in the same time frame. All told, Blasi has coached 22 all-conference performers at Western.
Coach Blasi returned to his high school alma mater, Monmouth High School, in the fall of 1995. There he led the Zippers to the Illinois state title in his first year, and he coached the 1996 team to a fourth-place finish. He assumed the golf course professional duties at Western in February 1998 and returned to the coaching ranks in February 2000. Blasi also serves as the Director of Golf and Teaching Professional at the Harry Mussatto Golf Course.
The Burlington, Iowa native and his wife, Melissa, have three sons - Elijah, Noah and Ezra.
- Coaching Experience
Western Illinois, head coach 1988-90, 2000-present
Southern Illinois, women's assistant coach 1994-95
Monmouth High School, head coach 1995-97
- Playing Experience
Western Illinois University 1985-87
Southern Illinois, master's 1995
Western Illinois, bachelor's 1987
Born September 9, 1964
Hometown Monmouth, Ill.
Family wife Melissa; sons Elijah, Noah and Ezra
The Summit League Coach of the Year 2008
Mid-Continent Coach of the Year 2007
Mid-Continent Coach of the Year 2006
Mid-Continent Coach of the Year 2004
All-Mid-Continent Conference First Team 1987
All-Mid-Continent Conference First Team 1986
All-Mid-Continent Conference First Team 1985
Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year 1987
- Team Tournament Titles
Bradley Invitational March 24-26, 2001
Ironhorse Intercollegiate Oct. 12-14, 2003
D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate Sept. 12-13, 2004
Mid-Continent Championship April 17-20, 2004
Hawkeye Invitational Sept. 9-10, 2005
Rivercut Invitational Oct. 17-18, 2005
APSI Intercollegiate Oct. 24-25, 2005
Beu/Mussatto Invite March 28-29 2005
Hawkeye Invitational Sept. 9-10, 2006
Billiken Invitational April 11-12, 2006
Beu/Mussatto Invite April 4-15, 2006
Mid-Continent Championship April 24-25, 2006
Beu/Mussatto Invite April 6-7, 2007
Wiscon Corporation Invite April 15-17, 2007
Mid-Continent Championship April 23-24, 2007
Beu/Mussatto Invite April 4-5, 2008
The Summit League Championship April 20-22, 2008
Carlton Oaks Invite Feb. 16-17, 2009
Branson Creek Invite April 6-7, 2009
Beu/Mussatto Invite March 29-30, 2010
Beu/Mussatto Invite March 28-29. 2011
- Match Victories
McNeese State March 19, 2005
Hawaii-Pacific & BYU-Hawaii March 14, 2006
IUPUI Oct. 13, 2007