CONOVER, N.C. -- Nova Southeastern head coach Ryan Jamison knelt quietly, at first bowing his head and then staring intently at the nearby 18th green.
Last week, he hadn’t wanted to talk much about his team being ranked first in the nation. It was basically just a number, he said then, just a way of quantifying how well the Sharks had done to that point in the season. That was then, but this was now and this was really happening.
Although Nova Southeastern was about to lose a matchup to Lynn, it didn’t matter. Moments earlier, Santiago Gomez had finished off Lynn’s Jose Andres Miranda to seal a 3-2 victory. It was Jamison’s first national championship as head coach, the seventh team title in school history and 20th overall, including individuals.
The title was Nova Southeastern’s, and he could finally talk about what it truly means to be No. 1.“It means so much,” said a relieved Jamison. “The guys have worked so hard this year. They’ve really pushed each other. We got together at the beginning of the year, and we had our vision for the year. We talked about the things we needed to do to see that through. I feel like this team has been my most complete team. They’re committed to the process, and they’re committed to the game. They did a great job today.”
Seeded second to Lynn going into match play, Nova Southeastern became the fourth team in as many years to win it all from that position. Jamison tried not to think about that, because trends don’t really mean that much.
Or do they?
The Sharks took third in the national championship tournament in 2013, Jamison’s first year at the helm.
They were second last season.
And now, they’re first. What’s more, they did it against Lynn, a fierce but friendly rival from the Sunshine State Conference located just a few miles apart in Florida. Golf isn’t like other sports, where teams glare at each other from opposite dugouts, sides of the field or ends of the court. Jamison had chatted amiably and even hugged Lynn head coach Andrew Danna before play ever ended.
Danna declined comment afterward.
“I think more than anything, it’s competition and I think competition raises the bar,” Jamison said. “It’s great for the kids to have somebody pushing them and them pushing themselves. I just think our Sunshine State Conference, and also Division II, is really, really strong.”
It’s hard to argue the point. Five of the past six NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships have been won by teams from the conference -- Nova Southeastern twice, Barry twice and Florida Southern once.
“I think the Sunshine State Conference is the best conference in the country,” Jamison said. “I don’t think anybody would debate that. We’re just happy to be in this league and happy to have the facilities and governing body. We’re in a great league, a great state.”
Ethan Marcus, Priyanshu Singh and Gomez won their matchups to give Nova Southeastern the championship. Oscar Lengden and Richard Mansell had won points the day before against Central Missouri to help move the Sharks into the finals.
In other words, it had been a team effort all the way around, all week.
“Everybody had their moments this week,” Jamison said. “I feel like that’s what makes it a team win. They’ve really all contributed, not only this week, but throughout the whole process this year. Even the guys back at home, those guys contributed to the success of the team whether they realize it or not.”
Jamison laughed when asked how long he was going to allow himself to savor the victory. A few days, he responded. After that, it’ll be on to next season.
There are other championships to be won, after all.
“Right now, I just want to celebrate this one and then go back to the drawing board,” Jamison said. “Ultimately, golf is just about getting better every day. That’s going to be the mindset going forward in the summer for these guys coming back. We’re just going to continue to get better and hopefully put ourselves in a position to do it again.”