Sandhills CC on top heading into NJCAA final round
CHAUTAUQUA — Two years ago, Sandhills Community College took an 11-shot lead into the final round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Golf Championship before faltering on the final day to lose the title by one stroke to Georgia Military College.
With less of a cushion going into today’s final round at Chautauqua Golf Club, the Flyers hope history does not repeat itself.
Sandhills CC shot 302 as a team Thursday and sit at 906 after the first three rounds to take a four-shot lead into the fourth round this morning.
“Yes, I’d like to have a larger lead, but I’m pretty happy with where we are,” Sandhills CC head coach Gus Ulrich said. “There is no lead that is big enough.”
Nick Agapion fired a 2-under 70 to tie for low round of the tournament and the day to lead the Flyers while Andreas Huber fired a 75, Carson Witherspoon shot a 77, Adam Hathaway had an 80 and Andrew Crawford an 81.
“Andreas is a really steady golfer. He really should be two or three shots better each round,” Ulrich said. “The other players are struggling a little bit, but they seem to be getting more comfortable with the golf course.”
Huber is tied for first overall with Minnesota State & Technical College’s Wyatt Blomseth, who matched Agapion’s 70 on Thursday and is at 219 for the tournament.
“This golf course … you really need to know this place. It really has a mystique about it that makes it difficult,” Ulrich said. “The greens are extremely tricky. They’ve gotten them firm and fast which makes scoring difficult.”
Defending champion Georgia Military College is in second place as a team with a three-day total of 910 after Thursday’s 307.
“I think we’re right there. … All the schools are right there,” Georgia Military College head coach Charles Van Horn III said. “Sandhills CC had a couple of nice days. It’s one of the best group of four days I’ve ever seen up here. Hopefully we get one more.”
Austin Quillian shot a 75 and Peter Thayer had a 76 during the third round and the pair is tied for fourth individually with 225s. Dylan Humphries is sixth overall after his 81 on Thursday while Luner Benton is tied for 12th after a third-round 76 and Noah Hankins added an 80 for the Bulldogs.
“I’ve got four kids who can go even par or right around there. If I have four of them doing that, we’ll have a good chance,” Van Horn said. ” … It comes down to the last day. All coaches look for that. It’s what we train for. The kids know that’s what it’s about. Who’s coming to play on the last day?”
Led by Blomseth’s 70, Minnesota State & Technical College is third overall, 10 strokes back at 916 for the tournament.
“He’s just such a mature, mentally tough player. He has a wonderful short game,” Minnesota State & Technical College head coach Jason Retzlaff said of Blomseth. “He’s been hitting the ball really well. The putts hadn’t been falling for him the first two days. (Thursday) was really a stress-free round for him where he just kept giving himself birdie putts. … It’s no surprise that he’s playing well.”
Carter Justesen is seventh individually at 229 after a 75 on Thursday while Hunter Burnside is tied for eighth after a third-round 76. Grant Inniger and John Vall both chipped in 82s for the Spartans.
“I think we’ve played very well so far. (Friday) is more about shooting the best we can and seeing where we are at,” Retzlaff said. “It’s a situation where I don’t think this is a golf course where you try to go crazy going for things. You take what it gives you and hope it’s enough at the end. I think we have a sub-300 round in us, whether that would be enough is a good question.”
Jamestown Community College’s Anthony Gullo had his best showing of the week Thursday with a third-round 77 to move into a tie for 16th place.
Gullo’s teammate David Allen also broke 80 with a third-round 79.
Niagara County CC’s Sam Hyman is tied for 10th individually after Thursday’s round of 82 tied him with Hathaway. The Thunderwolves are fifth as a team. Murphy Lang is tied for 20th after Thursday’s 77, Fred Waterman is tied for 27th after an 83 and Cameron Cswaykus is 35th after an 87.
DuPage CC sits in fourth place as a team after a third-round 321. Gabe Brock shot a 79 on Thursday and is in 14th individually while his teammate Sam Gerry fired an 80 to sit in 15th. Jack Turner is tied for 16th after an 80, Matt McColaugh shot an 82 and Bryce Stair fired an 83.
Jefferson CC is sixth as a team, led by Ryan Blevins in a tie for 20th individually after an 83. Sam Arrigo is tied for 27th after a team-best 78 Thursday while Chris Olson (88) and Mitch Scoville (88) are tied for 38th. Cole Morrissette had an 89 Thursday and is tied for 41st.
Delta CC is seventh as a team, led by Jacob Denham (tied for 25th, 82). Steve King-Garcia is tied for 33rd after Thursday’s 85, Ben Piggott is 36th after an 83 and Fred King-Garcia is 40th after a third-round 93.
“You look at all the players up there. Sandhills and Georgia Military are such good, strong programs,” Retzlaff said. ” …. There are probably still a number of guys who have a shot to put up a low one. The low round is out there on this course.”
Jamestown CC is eighth with Josh Brown’s 99 placing him in 43rd and Matt Fennell’s 105 placing him in 44th.
Huber, Quillian and Blomseth will make up the final group to tee off this morning at 11:30 a.m.
“The way I see it, everybody has a chance,” Van Horn said. “The people who come to play on the fourth day are the ones that should win, just like on the PGA Tour.”
“We definitely have to be cautious. I’m trying constantly to remind these kids, stay below the hole, stay below the hole, stay below the hole. … If we’re in between clubs, we’re going to go with the conservative play,” Ulrich said of the final round. “The good news is we don’t have to go out and shoot a great round. If we can shoot a solid round, we’ll be in good shape.”