The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features one Diplomat per month who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition.
To view previous scholar-athletes, click here.
On Aug. 27, 2013, Franklin & Marshall College held its annual convocation ceremony for the latest group of incoming first-year students, the Class of 2017. During the ceremony, President Daniel Porterfield urged the campus newcomers to take pride in becoming "growing, developing, learning, human beings." Minutes later, Rebecca Green '14 encouraged them "to be here in this new place, and think how you can contribute to this world."
Brad Lankler, a new member of the F&M golf team, was among those incoming freshman taking in the ceremony that Tuesday morning. Two and a half years later, Lankler personifies the dual facets of the F&M experience, investing in himself and achieving personally, as well as contributing to something larger than the individual.
For the junior biology major, these two themes manifest in his pursuits both as a student - which means a lot of time spent studying - and as a member of the golf team.
"It has definitely been a challenge over the past two and half years," said Lankler. "I know that once I leave the golf course I have to go straight to the library to get my work done."
Lankler hopes that his work at F&M will allow him to conduct research following his undergraduate years before heading to medical school.
When not preparing for his own future, Lankler finds time to help improve the future of others in the community. He serves as the community service chair for his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, organizing service projects that range from working within the Lancaster area to raising money for troops overseas and their families.
"Working with the people in the Lancaster community gives me a lot of perspective on the different lives and cultures that comprise the city," Lankler said. "It makes the college experience blend into the real world rather than be an isolated area for four years."
Lankler's actions as a student, making a positive difference for himself and those around him, are mirrored in his achievements as an athlete.
Individually, Lankler has established himself as one of the top golfers in the Centennial Conference and region. As a freshman, he put together a season that saw him finish in the top 25 percent of every tournament in which he competed. His best performance came in the CC Championships in April 2014, where he shot 72-75-76 to finish at +10 and tie for first.
Two weeks later at the NCAA Championships, Lankler shot rounds of 75 and 74, good for five over par and 53rd out of 210, but was unable to complete the final two rounds as the Diplomats missed the cut.
In 2014-15, the now sophomore Lankler was able to build on the success of his opening season, winning three different tournaments and never finishing lower than eighth. At the CC Championships, he tied fellow Diplomat Daniel Furman for second behind then-F&M senior Robert Svigals. At the NCAAs, Lankler led the Diplomats once more, standing in 65th out of 210 competitors when second-round play ended. When the season concluded, he had earned first-team all-region honors and honorable mention All-America recognition.
The fall portion of the 2015-16 season suggested that Lankler has taken his game to yet another level. In five tournaments, the junior placed or tied for first twice, and finished outside the top three just once.
"He is special because he plays so well under pressure," said head men's golf coach Andy Tompos. "He is the player we count on every match to shoot the low score."
While Lankler's individual achievements are natural parts of a traditionally non-team sport, the impact he has had on the success of the golf team as a whole is unmistakable.
In collegiate golf, team scoring is determined by adding together the scores of the top four competitors of the five on each squad. As with individual scoring, the team with the lowest total score wins.
"In a game that is about the individual, being a member of a team provides an extra dimension to the sport," said Lankler. "You learn to play not for yourself, but for everyone else on the team. You also learn how to work together, which is a rare thing in golf."
The Diplomats seem to have gotten pretty good at this atypical side of the game. In 2013-14, Lankler's individual victory paved the way for F&M to clinch the team conference championship, which, at the time, was the sixth in program history.
In 2014-15, F&M continued to make its presence felt on the national stage. Over the fall and spring seasons, the Diplomats set an NCAA record by winning nine different tournaments, including five in a row that April.
The last of those victories came at the CC Championship, where Lankler tied for second and was one of three Diplomats in the top-two positions. As a team, F&M shot 882 over three rounds to break its own record for a low score at the championship, running away from the field to win by 30 strokes. At the NCAA tournament, the Diplomats again missed the cut, but only narrowly, as Lankler shot 77-75 to lead a group that missed the last two rounds by just four shots.
The 2015-16 campaign has already brought continued success for the Diplomats, finishing in the top five in four out of five tournaments. F&M has also taken team honors in two tournaments, the Penn St. Harrisburg Invitational where Lankler tied for first, and the F&M Fall Invitational, where he tied for second.
"There is much more motivation to play well knowing there is a team behind me," said Lankler. "I have been fortunate over the past two years where I have been the guy to win a tournament for our team on a couple occasions. It's an indescribable feeling when I can help the entire team, which I just don't get when I play as an individual."
"Brad is our number one player," said Tompos. "Because of his terrific play we have a chance to win the conference and participate in nationals."
At F&M, students are encouraged to invest in themselves and in others. To be a successful student-athlete requires the ability to do so in the classroom and as a member of a team. For Brad Lankler, handling this multitude of demands and achieving excellence in each arena comes naturally.