April 23, 2010

By Adam Geigerman
Special to NCAA.com

It's Championship Time Again

The season has entered crunch time. The nation's premiere Division II programs are hunting down championship hardware as the spring breezes morph into summer swelters. First come the conference championships as they narrow the fields for the NCAA DII Regionals, and finally the NCAA DII National Championships.

The Sunshine State Conference is the textbook definition of a powerhouse. It features the No. 1 school in the land, Barry, along with the No. 3 (Florida Southern), No. 6 (Lynn), No. 8 (Nova Southeastern) and No. 25 (Rollins). To compliment the actual nationally ranked schools, the SSC houses two top-25 vote receivers - St. Leo and Florida Tech. Add it all up and the SSC Championship Tournament featured only one team that isn't mentioned on the Golf World/ NIKE Golf DII Coaches Poll, Eckerd College - who finished in the ninth and final position at April 18-20 conference tournament.

Fort Lauderdale's Grande Oaks Golf Club offered up its par-71, 6, 680 yard long golfer's haven to host the 2010 SSC Conference Championship Tournament, won by the No. 3 ranked Mocs by 5-strokes.

The Mocs had four golfers fire not only sub-par final rounds, but all four fired rounds in the sixties, with Jude Eustaquio's 4-under, 67 serving as the exclamation point. Eustaquio's final round tied for the round's lowest with Lynn's Steven Brame. Eustaquio finalized his tied for second-place score with a tournament total of 9-under par. The other three Mocs to finish in the sixties were Matt Staunch and Shelton Smith's tie for fifth (-8) and Peter Creighton's final round 69 put him in a tie for the 26-position (+7). The only Moc to shoot over-par for the final round was Danny Evelyn with his 1-over, 72. He still took a tie for twenty-fourth (+6). The Florida Southern boys claimed the conference championship with a 5-stroke edge over Barry's elite golf program, locking themselves into the NCAA Super Regional Tournament with an automatic bid.

Barry's fivesome of men's golfers expected a high finish at conference, but were force to settle for the second-best conclusion. As a team, the Buccaneers blasted a beautiful 12-under par, 840, while placing all five competitors in the top-26, with their crown jewel being Carlos Velez's individual medalist effort. Velez took control of the golf course as he posted rounds of 66, 68 and 69 in order. His -10 final score was enough to take the crown - Velez's first ever, with his next closest competition being a two-way tie for second at 9-under. As for his fellow Bucs, Player of the Week Daniel Stapff sat alone in seventh (-4), Chris Carlin and Victor Billskroog carded 2-overs - good for a tie of 14th, and Guillermo Pumerol took his 7-over for a 26th place tie. The Bucs also look onto their next challenge at the NCAA Super Regional, as there is no doubt they will earn an At-Large Bid.

Nova and Lynn took the next two team finishes at the SSC Championships, respectively, as they both had representatives in the top-5 medalists also. The Sharks followed behind the stellar play of Bobby Bode as he handed in a tournament total of 207 (-6) good for a lone fourth place finish. All five Sharks totaled into thetop-20, with Peter Kolosvary's (-1) tenth place tie, Byron White's (+2) tie for 14th, and Ben Vertz tie with Jack Bartlett for 18th (+3)

Lynn's charge was led by Patricio Salem took home a second place honors as he tied Eustaquio with his career-best tournament total of 204 (-9). The Fighting Knights admired Salem's 14 birdies throughout the championship, as he took All-Tournament Honors ahead of the other two Knights in the top-10, Devin Kay tied for eighth (-3) and Steven Brame for tenth place (-1).

The nine team field showcased the golf games of four of the nation's top-8 teams in fierce competition, and the NCAA Super Regionals look to do the same with a supplement of the nation's top ranked golf programs in the South.

The Vikings Ransack the GNAC Championship

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships at Couer D'Alene Resort Golf Club offered itself as a minor obstacle as the Vikings dominated the four team field in all facets of the par-71, 6,803 yard long course. Western Washington's golf team blistered the competition by 24 strokes, making the conference tournament look more like a Pac-10 football game, than a DII Men's Golf tournament.

The Vikes ate up five of the top eight positions, leaving room only for St. Martin's Michael Jaeger, Justin Lanman and Zach Dietz 's third, fifth and sixth finishes, respectively.

The tournament individual medal went to Xavier Dailly's 209 (-4), with his comrade Julian Peters alone in second with a 210 (-3). The other three Vikings in play were Patrick Boag in fourth with a 218 (+5), Nick Varelia's 221 (+8) was good for seventh, while Sam Ayotte took eighth with his 224 (+11).

The Viking's decisive victory over their GNAC opponents cement their bid for their NCCA Super Regional Tournament in early May, against much stiffer competition.

Tourney, Tourney Everywhere

The Southeast's dominance of DII golf has been highlighted once again, through two more conference golf tournaments, the Coastal Carolina Conference Tournament in No.12 Belmont Abbey's backyard and the Gulf Coast Conference's in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The CCC featured the No. 9 and 12 nationally ranked teams respectively, with Barton and Belmont Abbey. Those two teams finished the CCC Championship in reverse order with the Crusaders outstroking the Bulldogs by three.
The Bulldogs placed four golfers in the top eight, with a straggler, David Boyce, taking a tie for 26th. Daniel Castleberry and Thomas Muto, Jr. took the second and third-place positions with 10 and 11-over totals, respectively. Stephen Harrison stood alone in seventh with a +13, while Daniel Claytor tied for eighth with his +16. As a team the Bulldogs were the runner-ups with their 48-over par total of 888 for the tournament.

The Crusaders towered victorious over their fellow Carolinians in competition. Joe Campbell took the individual honor with his 1-over par golf clinic. Adam Hedges and Peter Tarver Jones tied each other for fourth place with +12 efforts, followed up by Stephen Keane's finish in a tie for 20th. Connor Tomlinson blasted a 25-over to take a tie for 33rd. They took the team championship with their 45-over, 885.

The Gulf Coast Conference offered an equal amount of parity as the CCC Championships, with their conference winner, No. 5 North Alabama stomping around on its competition, winning by 26 strokes. The Roaring Lions shredded its closest competitors, No.13 Valdosta State and formerly ranked West Florida's tournament totals of 881, with their own 855.

The Lions dominated the GCC for the second-straight year, led by the tournament's individual medalist, Brett Munson and his 12-under par total. They didn't stop there, as Jake Greer slid into the runner-ups position with his 6-under. Andrew Freeman was the only other Lion to lay claim to a top-10 finish. He took a tie for eighth with his 3-over par performance. The Lions gain access to their second-straight NCAA Super Regional, where they will undoubtly face No. 1 Barry, No. 12 Valdosta State, No.2 GCSU and all of the other titans from the South/South Central Region.