Ace in the hole
Agapion’s hole-in-one sparks Sandhills CC to title
CHAUTAUQUA — For two years, Nick Agapion had to live with the final-round 86 he shot as Sandhills Community College blew an 11-shot lead at the 2019 NJCAA Division III Golf Championships.
Now, the Flyers sophomore has a memory that will last a lifetime.
Agapion made a hole-in-one on the 188-yard 12th hole as four Sandhills CC players shot in the low 70s to lock up the school’s second national title with a 291 on Friday at the Lake Course of Chautauqua Golf Club.
“He was here two years ago when we lost by a shot. He had a horrible last round that day. He felt so responsible for our loss to the point where he was inconsolable after the round. I’ll never forget it,” Sandhills CC head coach Gus Ulrich said. “I thought this year was the greatest opportunity for him to come out and get a chance to redeem himself. He played wonderfully. I’m just so glad for him … for this championship.”
“Two years ago to lose by one shot and then fast-forward two years later we win by one shot,” Agapion added, “you can’t make that kind of stuff up. It’s just unbelievable.”
Carson Witherspoon shot a 72 while Andreas Huber, Agapion and Adam Hathaway all shot 73s for the Flyers, who won the overall title by one stroke over Georgia Military College with a four-day total of 1,197.
“I’m super proud of them for how they hung in there,” Ulrich said. “Georgia Military played a great round of golf today. Fortunately we had just enough cushion to pull it off.”
Minnesota State & Technical College’s Wyatt Blomseth eagled No. 13 to propel him to overall medalist honors with a final-round 72.
“He is someone that is totally prepared. … He hit a few ‘Wyatt shots’ we like to call them. He made some escapes,” Minnesota State & Technical College head coach Jason Retzlaff said. “The eagle putt was phenomenal and gave him the cushion that he needed to be able to play smart down the stretch.”
Huber and Blomseth began the day tied with 219s and Huber took the lead for a couple of holes when Blomseth bogeyed No. 4.
“I knew where I was so it was kind of fun to be able to battle it out head to head all the way coming down the stretch,” Blomseth said. “It was pretty steady for the first part of the round. We had a couple of shot swing there on No. 13 where I made the eagle and he made par.”
At No. 6, Blomseth made a par while Huber settled for a bogey as the pair pulled back even for the day. Huber then bogeyed Nos. 7, 9 and 10 to fall three strokes back of Blomseth.
“He’s a team player. He did it for us and not for himself,” Sandhills CC head coach Gus Ulrich said of Huber. ” … He’s a very, very talented guy. He doesn’t get quite what he could out of his scores. He should be shooting better scores, but he will.”
Blomseth then made a 50-plus-foot eagle putt for a 3 on No. 13 while Huber bogeyed to fall five strokes back.
“My only goal is to get it within a few feet there so I can get the birdie and get out of there,” Blomseth said. “About halfway I thought it was going to go in.”
Bogeys at Nos. 14, 16 and 17 by Blomseth made it a two-stroke gap and Huber birdied No. 18 to pull within one, but Blomseth calmly made par to wrap up the title.
“He’s a mental warrior. Nothing rattles him,” Retzlaff said. ” … To see someone get rewarded at the culmination of their career is pretty special.”
Agapion started the day one shot back of Blomseth and Huber, but was even-par over the front nine. Bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11 put him 2-over for the day before his 8-iron ace at No. 12 pulled him back to even.
“The funny thing is, I hit a solid shot, I struck it well and I pushed it out to the right a little bit,” Agapion said. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to be that good. I kind of put my head down and started walking. Then, I see it rolling, keep rolling and rolling and everybody says ‘it went in.’ I just didn’t expect it.”
Agapion followed up the hole-in-one with a birdie at the par-5 No. 13, and another birdie in the final five holes helped him finish his 73.
“The back nine was huge for us,” Ulrich said, “just staying focused and not worrying too much about the results.”
Georgia Military College’s Austin Quillian birdied No. 18 to finish off a final-round 71 and lead the Bulldogs to a second-place total of 1,198.
“To shoot even par is all that I asked of them,” Georgia Military College head coach Charles Van Horn III said. “What beat us is Nick from Sandhills making a hole-in-one. … It came down to an 18-foot putt to tie and the Sandhills kid had to birdie to beat us. That’s what happened.”
Other scoring players for Georgia Military College were Peter Thayer (75), Dylan Humphries (74) and Luner Benton, who shot the low round for the day with a 68.
“We were looking for Austin to birdie Nos. 17 and 18. He lipped out on No. 17 and made it on No. 18,” Van Horn said. ” … I knew if we had a birdie out of (Peter Thayer) or Austin that would’ve put us over the edge. We just needed one more birdie on No. 18.”
Minnesota State & Technical College finished third with a four-day total of 1,220.
“There’s no shame in coming up short to Georgia Military and Sandhills. They played so well today,” Retzlaff said. “I thought we played three great rounds of golf. We had a tough day on Day 2. … To be in the top three is something to be proud of.”
After Blomseth’s 72 on Friday were Carter Justesen (72), Grant Inniger (77) and Hunter Burnside (84).
“It’s the third time in a row we’ve been third,” Retzlaff said. “We’d like to go up a few notches and get the title back again, but it’s a special group of guys … that have a lot of character and integrity off the golf course.”
DuPage CC was fourth as a team with a 1,285, Niagara County CC was fifth (1,324), Jefferson CC was sixth (1,358), Delta CC was seventh (1,380) and Jamestown CC was eighth (1,456).
First-Team All-Americans were Blomseth (291), Huber (292), Agapion (293), Quillian (296), Thayer (300) and Justesen (301).
Second-Team All-Americans were Humphries (301), Benton (303), Witherspoon (305), Hathaway (307), DuPage CC’s Sam Gerry (312) and Inniger (312).
Third-Team All-Americans were Niagara County CC’s Sam Hyman (313), Burnside (317), Mohawk Valley CC’s Eric Joyce (320), Georgia Military College’s Noah Hankins (320), Mohawk Valley CC’s Phoenix Weydig (320) and DuPage CC’s Gabe Brock (321).
NOTES: Anthony Gullo was the top Jamestown CC finisher in 22nd with a 324. He was three shots out of an All-American position. David Allen finished 34th (340), Josh Brown was 43rd (395) and Matt Fennell was 44th (397). … Sandhills CC first won a national title in 2014 at Chautaugua GC with an 1,197 — identical to this week’s total and matching the fourth-lowest total in tournament history. … Georgia Military College’s 288 on Friday was four off the tournament record set by Columbus State CC in 2003.