HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – Often when a fortunate bounce occurs on the golf course, from the average hack to the best in the world, credit goes to the “Golfing Gods.”

For Transylvania one of those “Gods” was looking out for the team on Wednesday.

A tough Tuesday at the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division III Golf Championships saw the Pioneers shoot 20-over-par 308. The day wasn’t made any easier when word came from Lexington, Ky., that 95-year-old Harry Stephenson, a big part of the program’s family, passed away that evening.

A day later, on Wednesday, head coach Brian Lane’s Pioneers played the best round in school history, shooting even-par 288 and easily coming in under the cut line. They continued the climb up the leaderboard on Thursday, finishing at 296. Lane’s squad will be a part of the final group for Friday’s final round with 54-hole leader Oglethorpe and Methodist.

Moore: Oglethorpe’s Maccaglia holds lead
Moore: Layout differences show early
Moore: Maccaglia tied for first after day one
• Day Two: Recap
• Day One: Recap
Leaderboard: Team | Individual

“We talked about making (Wednesday) special,” said Lane, whose squad is 28-over-par through 54 holes and 27 shots behind Oglethorpe. “We talked about doing something, about wearing a ribbon and the kids had no problem with it. All these kids, at some time or other, had met Harry. Everybody that’s ever come through Transylvania has a Harry story of some kind, but those who were part of golf had the better stories.

“He was 95-years-old but he was like a teenager.”

Senior Justin Tereshko played his first 13 holes this week in 12-over. But since a near eagle on the par-5 fifteenth and an ace win a 9-iron on the next hole, the Indiana product is just 1-over.

“We’ve definitely played with heavy hearts the last few days,” said Tereshko. “All of us have met Harry numerous times and Coach (Lane) was very close with him. We have a Ryder Cup style event with Centre that’s called the ‘Herb and Harry’ and our part is for Harry. He’s been a part of the program for a long time. Everybody on campus knew him.

“I don’t know if I got any lucky bounces but my tournament did turn around after I lipped out an eagle and hit the ace.”

Stephenson entered Transylvania as a freshman in 1936. He played professional baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization during his summers as a student. During World War II he was a crew chief and engineer on a C-47 troop carrier with the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1946 he graduated from Transylvania and went on to earn a Master’s Degree from  Kentucky.

He joined the faculty at Transylvania in 1948 and never looked back, coaching men’s basketball, baseball and golf, and also becoming athletics director. He retired in 2006 after 58 years of employment at the Lexington school.

“Harry Stephenson was the epitome of an educator,” said Transylvania athletics director Jack Ebel. “Countless Transylvania students and athletes developed lifelong relationships with Harry through his dedication to mentoring young people. Harry was an exceptional friend to the university whose commitment began 76 years ago when he came here as a student.”

Stephenson coached Lane for four seasons and has been a mentor since their first meeting over 20 years ago.

“The times we’ve won the ‘Herb and Harry’ we always took the trophy to his apartment so he could keep it there,” said Lane. “The team would sit around and get a chance to hear some of his stories.

“We didn’t talk about going low or doing anything numbers wise. We just talked about making it a special day. Several of the guys talked about how (Wednesday) just felt different. The tension that was there the day before wasn’t there.”

Jantzen Latham shot a second straight 72 on Thursday with Clay Hinton adding a 75 a day after scorching the front nine in 5-under 30.

Transylvania missed the cut a year ago and has never finished higher than eleventh in five previous appearances. Perhaps the “Golfing Gods” have something special in store for Friday.