May 12, 2010

By Todd Karpovich, Special to NCAA.com

HERSHEY, Pa. --
The Guilford men’s golf team is playing for something more than just a national championship this year.

The Quakers (Greensboro, N.C.) are dedicating this year’s tournament at the Hershey Links and Hershey Country Club to their late coach Jack Jensen, who died suddenly on March 28 at the age of 71 of a heart attack on his way home from a tournament. Jensen not only left behind a legacy as one of the best coaches in the college game, he also left dozens of athletes who looked up to him as a role model.

Jensen coached Guilford's 1972-73 NAIA men's basketball championship team that included future NBA players ML Carr, World B. Free and Greg Jackson. He also coached Guilford's 1989 NAIA men's golf championship team that included future PGA player Lee Porter. He was the second person in NAIA history to coach national championship teams in two different sports

When Guilford qualified for this year’s tournament, the players agreed to try and win a title for their late coach.

“I don’t think he had any enemies and you couldn’t have met a nicer guy,” said Guilford interim coach Korky Kemp. “It was just a total shock for the program and for the school. We are definitely playing for Coach this week. If we go on to win this championship, it will be his championship.”

Guilford is in third place after the second round with a score of 600, trailing only top ranked Methodist (597) and Huntingdon (599).

“We played very well, even when the rains came,” Kemp said. “We felt like we played decent but not as good as we could have. We have the fire power to play well this week. We’re doing what Coach would want us to do and that is to totally focus on the next shot. We take it one shot at a time. The team has been really drawn together since his passing.”

Jensen also led the Quakers to second-place finishes at four national golf tournaments, including one of the most dramatic finishes in the 2001 Division III championships when they lost to Wisconsin-Eau Claire by one stroke. Jensen was a two-time Golf Coaches Association of America Division III District 3 Coach of the Year.

“The weeks after Coach died, we were all together on and off the golf course,” said senior captain Brian Creghan said. “We’re dealing with it the best we can. He is a legend. He is one of my best friends because I got to know him over four
years. I was lucky to have that opportunity.”

Fellow captain Peter Latimer agreed the team rallied together after hearing the news of Jenson’s death. Latimer is hoping the Quakers can bring home another title for Jensen.

“We’re in a pretty good position and we’re playing with a cause,” he said. “Everyone wants to win one for Coach. But you can’t really think like that. You just have to go out there and play.”

SKIDMORE HONORED: Even though Skidmore (Saratoga Springs, N.Y) slipped after grabbing the first-round lead, coach David Bakyta and several players received Regular-season honors. Bakyta was named the Eaton Pride Golf Coaches Association of America Northeast Coach of the Year. Chris DeJohn, Matt Canavan, Joe Flowers, and Ryan Lloyd were each named to the Northeast All-Region Team.

The Thoroughbreds fell from first to fourth on Wednesday and are at 602 for the tournament. Bakyta, however, is confident his group is primed to make a run over the next two days.

“We’re really concerned about what we’re doing and we know we’re in a good spot,” Bakyta said.

YOUNG GUNS SHINE FOR FRANKLIN & MARSHALL: Franklin & Marshall (Grantham, Pa.) made a run to this year’s national tournament with the help of some talented underclassmen. On Tuesday, freshman Jeremy Rubin was one of the most impressive players in the entire tournament, shooting a 71 with three birdies. Rubin and Claremont Mudd Scripps' Tain Lee, the leader at 69, were the only golfers to finish18 holes under par. Diplomats’ sophomores Cameron Warner and Brendan Mohler each finished in the top 30. On Wednesday, however, the Diplomats struggled on the Hershey Country Club course, but still made the cut to the third round with an overall score of 622 for 17th place.