FOLEY, Ala. — Mississippi Gulf Coast stormed to its first team national title Thursday at the NJCAA Division II Men's Golf Championship, shooting 9-under to beat MACJC rival Meridian by one shot.
The Bulldogs finished at 2-under for the tournament, moving up two slots in the standings in the final round of the 72-hole tournament.
"Coming down the stretch, it was really exciting. It was so tight," Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell said. "I really didn't think we had a one-shot lead, but we did. When everybody was congratulating us, I was a little bit skeptical. It's kind of surreal. It really is."
By the middle of the final round, Gulf Coast had taken the lead. But through 12 holes, the top three were all tied at 4-under. The Bulldogs survived the treacherous back nine just a hair better than Meridian and third-place Parkland, which was three shots back.
"You can't pinpoint one thing," Snell said. "It was just a team effort. Everybody supported everybody."
Jackson Wedgeworth (So., West Jones/Soso) shot 4-under 68 to finish in a tie for fourth place at 5-under, and Brice Wilkinson (Fr. Madison Central/Madison) shot 69 for the second straight day to tie for sixth at 3-under.
"Jackson and Brice, they're just Jackson and Brice," Snell said. "They're that good of players."
Carter Nicholson (Fr., Pearl River Central/Carriere) was even-par to finish tied for 17th at 5-over.
"Carter the last two days was 3-under par," Snell said, "and that's a freshman who hasn't had much experience in tournaments."
Colby Blake (So., Parklane/Tylertown) shot 70 to get to 7-over for the tournament and tie for 23rd.
"Colby Blake went out today and was 4-under most of the day," said Snell.
Colby Entriken (So., Hancock/Pass Christian) shot 1-over and tied for 25th another shot back.
"Colby Entriken, who might not have had his best stuff, fought to 3-over yesterday and 1-over today," said Snell.
All five Bulldog golfers made the NJCAA All-American team. Wedgeworth and Wilkinson were on the First Team, and Nicholson, Blake and Entriken were on the Third Team.
Wedgeworth, Wilkinson and Nicholson were named to the All-Tournament Team.
It was the second year in a row Gulf Coast left the tournament with a championship. Colin Troxler won the individual title last year in Mesa, but the team finished second.
"Last year was a really bitter pill to swallow, to lead for almost four rounds, and you wonder how many chances you're going to get to win a national championship," Snell said. "To be able to swallow that pill last year and work hard toward this year, and to have it come to fruition is just so gratifying. To do it with five kids who are absolutely wonderful kids, well-behaved and smart, it just puts icing on the cake. I'm just so proud of them."
It's the seventh national championship for Mississippi Gulf Coast, with four in football and one in women's basketball.
NJCAA Division II Men's Golf Championship
GlenLakes Golf Club
|1. Gulf Coast||291-297-283-279—1150 (-2)|
|2. Meridian||294-285-288-284—1151 (-1)|
|3. Parkland||291-297-277-288—1153 (+1)|
|4. South Mountain||299-290-285-280—1154 (+2)|
|5. Kirkwood||294-300-290-287—1171 (+19)|
|T4. Jackson Wedgeworth||72-73-70-68—283 (-5)|
|T6. Brice Wilkinson||73-74-69-69—285 (-3)|
|T17. Carter Nicholson||77-75-69-72—293 (+5)|
|T23. Colby Blake||73-77-75-70—295 (+7)|
|T25. Colby Entriken||73-75-75-73—296 (+8)|
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