DENVER -- After 90 holes of golf, only the two top-ranked teams in the nation are left standing.
Chico State will take on Saint Leo Saturday for the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship after Chico State cruised to wins over West Florida and Florida Southern, and Saint Leo beat Wilmington before taking a thrilling tiebreaker win over Lynn in a rematch of last year’s semifinal.
The Saint Leo-Lynn semifinal came down to one shot, going to the total strokes tiebreaker as they finished all square at 2-2-1 with Joey Savoire’s one-stroke win over Manuel Torres proved decisive. With the match tied 2-2, the final pairing between Saint Leo’s Ryan Gendron and Lynn’s Jose Andres Miranda came up the 18th fairway with Gendron up a stroke, but he found a fairway bunker giving Miranda the opening to win the hole. Miranda’s birdie putt missed by inches, assuring Saint Leo of the tiebreak win as Gendron salvaged a bogey.
Chico State ran away with their semifinal, with Justin Wiles, Matt Hutchins, and Alistair Docherty all winning by five or more strokes.
In the morning quarterfinals, all four higher seeds won but not without drama. The Florida Southern vs. Cal Baptist match was decided as John Coultas birdied 17 to win his match against Kavan Eubank and notch the deciding point in a 3-2 win. It was the same story in Lynn’s 3-2 win over Barry when Mateo Gomez’s birdie on the same hole decided his match with Mike Anderson.
Chico State held on to defeat West Florida 3-1-1 with Lee Gearhart, Matt Hutchins, and Alistair Docherty winning. Top-seeded Saint Leo cruised to a 3-0-2 win over Wilmington (Del.) led by victories from Griffin Clark, Liam Ainsworth, and Joey Savoie. Wilmington’s Ryan Rucinski, who finished 90th in stroke play yesterday, eagled 18 to halve his match with newly-crowned national champion Hugo Bernard at -2.
- Chico State entered the week as the nation’s top-ranked team in the GolfStat ratings, while Saint Leo was second. The two flip-flopped in their seedings after 54 holes of play.
- Chico State is gunning for its second national title and first since 1966. St. Leo has never won a team national title in any sport; they could win two on Saturday with their men’s tennis team playing Hawaii Pacific in Denver in their national final. The Lions’ women’s tennis team made the national semifinals, and their women’s golf team is also competing in Denver.
- Saint Leo avenged its 4-1 semifinal loss to Lynn in last year’s tournament. That was St. Leo’s first-ever team appearance at NCAA Championships. Chico State made the final eight a year ago but lost to eventual champion Nova Southeastern.
- Wilmington was making its first appearance in the team round and was the first representative from the East region. Cal Baptist was also making its first appearance at NCAA Championships.
“It’s not going to get any easier tomorrow. It’ll be a great battle, and a great challenge.” – Chico State head coach T.L. Brown
“It’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty neat when you can bring four teams to the Festival and have two of them come this far, and have the other two go far.” – Saint Leo head coach Chris Greenwood on his institution’s week at the D-II Festival
“I knew that I was one-up and I had to at least win and that we had two wins and they had two wins already. I didn’t know if we would win on the score total or not, and I was struggling down the stretch and I got a little worried.” - Saint Leo’s Ryan Gendron, who saved bogey on the final hole to ensure his team advanced by tiebreak
NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships – Team Quarterfinals
 Saint Leo def.  Wilmington, 3-0-2
 Lynn def.  Barry, 3-2-0
 Chico State def.  West Florida, 3-2-0
 Florida Southern def.  Cal Baptist, 3-2-0
NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships – Team Semifinals
 Saint Leo def.  Lynn, 2-2-1 (St. Leo advances by total strokes, -1)
 Chico State def.  Florida Southern, 4-1-0
NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships – Team Final
 Saint Leo vs.  Chico State, Saturday, 9:00 a.m.