By Jim Riggs
CHAUTAUQUA - Minnesota State Community & Technical College came into Friday's final round of the NJCAA Division III National Golf Tournament leading by 18 shots. And at the end of the round, the Spartans were still in front by 18 shots as the champion.
Jake Yartz of Jamestown Community College chips from behind the first green during the final round of the NJCAA Division III National Golf Tournament at Chautauqua Golf Club on Friday. See additional photos a cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
But the team in second place changed as the host Jamestown CC Jayhawks took runner-up honors, their best finish since they won the event in 2000.
Minnesota State from Fergus Falls, Minn., finished with a 307 on the Lake Course at Chautauqua Golf for a 72-hole total of 1,224 to win its first championship in its first visit to the tournament as a team.
JCC had fallen to fourth place after the third round, but on Friday the Jayhawks shot their low score of the tournament, a 300, to finish second with a 1,242 total.
Louisburg College from Louisburg, N.C., finished third with 1,244 and three-time defending champion Monroe CC from Rochester was fourth with 1,246.
Shane Dobesh of Monroe shot a 1-under-par 71, his lowest round of the tournament (73-74-72) and won the individual title with a 2-over 290. Lewis Colby of Rockland CC was second with 293.
''It's an awesome feeling,'' coach Jason Retzlaff said about Minnesota State's team victory. ''We restarted our golf program eight years ago. And the fact that we came here without playing a competitive tournament since October (it plays a fall schedule) is what's really cool. That was one of my concerns coming in; were we going to have that competitive edge or were we going to have a little rust factor.''
He added, ''It's an amazing accomplishment for our golf program and our community. To come here with all these tradition-rich programs to go against, it's an honor to be the champions.''
Mitch Thorsen led the Spartans with a 74 while Alex Miller had a 75, and Lucas Gervais and Taylor Shuck shot 79s. An 86 by Tyler Brackey was thrown out.
''I think we had a few butterflies that showed up early in the round,'' Retzlaff said. ''Nothing terrible, we just weren't making quite as many pars and birdies right away.''
And when did the coach know his team had a lock on the title.
See NJCAA, Page B2
From Page B1
''The last six, seven holes we played close to under par,'' Retzlaff said. ''An amazing thing, Alex Miller, our fifth-best scorer through the first three days and shot an 86 yesterday, came in and shot a 75 today. A cool story, but that's been the strength of our team all year. We have five guys that any given day can put up a number.''
The team that really put up a number was JCC. A 300 was the Jayhawks' lowest score of the year.
''I'm as proud as can be,'' first-year coach Brett Mucheck said. ''We finished the tournament the way we know we're capable of playing. We played so great all year and I just wanted them to showcase themselves here a little bit and, boy, did we ever. ''
He added, ''It must be the gold shirts We've never worn these. We got them specifically for the final day.''
The Jayhawks might have locked up second place the previous night, after they had dropped into fourth.
''We had a fun night last night, we got away from golf,'' Mucheck said. ''I just had that feeling this morning. We kind of talked about all the good things going on for us and the good breaks we had. It was a positive energy this morning and they just took it to the golf course.''
Leading the way for JCC was its only sophomore, Casey Davidson, with a 73. Jake Yartz had a 75, Brenton Wilcox and Andrew Bird shot 76s while Drew Chaddock's 77 was tossed out.
Yartz's score meant a little more because it earned him NJCAA first-team All-American status. He started the day in fifth place in the individual scores and finished there after rounds of 74-77-73-75 for a 299 total.
''I wanted to shoot 75,'' the Southwestern graduate said. ''I wanted to shoot under 300.''
The turning point to Yartz's round might have been at the first hole where flew the green, chipped past the hole on his third shot and was left with a 10-foot downhill putt for par. And he made it.
''You've got to make this putt,'' Yartz said was his only thought. ''It was a good confidence-booster to start the round.''
He ended up going 1 under on the first four holes, which had been his nemesis during the week.
Yartz finished with four birdies and seven bogies.
Davidson had the low score for the Jayhawks with his 73.
''My swing felt good from the start,'' the Chautauqua Lake graduate said.
He shot a 4-over 39 on the front nine, thanks to double-bogeys at Nos. 7 and 9. But that didn't concern him.
''I know I'm capable of shooting under par on the back,'' Davidson said. ''I've done it three times this year.''
And he did with a 3-under 34 with birdies at 10, 13 and 14.
However, Davidson pointed out a 30-foot putt to save par at No. 11.
''It was way better than my birds,'' he said.
Bird finished his first national tournament with a bang by recording an eagle 2 on the last hole. He used a 52-degree wedge to sink the 52-yard shot.
''A great way to finish,'' Bird said. ''After shooting 90 (in the second round) and finish like that...''
The Cassadaga Valley graduate shot a 2-over 37 on the front nine and moved to six over after a bogey at 10 and a double-bogey at 11.
Bird almost made up two strokes at 13 when he just missed an 8-foot eagle putt and settled for a birdie.
Then he bogeyed 14 and 17 and erased them with the eagle at 18.
Also shooting 76, and also a Cassadaga Valley graduate, was Wilcox. After shooting a 4-over 40 on the front, which included two double-bogeys, he came back with a 1-under 36 on the back.
''I was pretty happy with that,'' he said about his 40 on the front considering the two doubles.
Then Wilcox started to turn things around with a birdie at 10.
''That felt good,'' Wilcox said.
He also birdied 13 and 18, and bogeyed 11 and 15.
Chaddock's 77 had to be tossed out. In past year's it might have led the team. However, he felt it should have been much better.
''I missed a lot three-footers,'' the freshman from Fillmore said. ''My score should have been like a 72 today.''
He had only four pars on the day. His round included five birdies, but two double-bogeys and six bogeys.
With the Jayhawks finishing second in the nation with four freshmen, Mucheck has to be looking ahead to next season. But he would prefer to still think about 2012.
''We'll let this one sink in first,'' he said.
Minnesota State CTC315-305-297-307-1,224
Rock Valley College325-324-323-323-1,295
Georgia Military College322-325-330-329-1,306
Bucks County CC338-325-319-334-1,316
TOP 15 INDIVIDUALS
Shane Dobesh, Monroe CC73-74-72-71-290
Colby Lewis, Rockland CC72-76-70-75-293
Josh Bialecki, Cincinnati St. CC71-73-77-76-297
Lucas Gervais, Minnesota St. CTC78-72-69-79-298
Jake Yartz, Jamestown CC74-77-73-75-299
Julio Gonzalez, Louisburg College80-76-75-69-300
Shelby Stewart, Vincennes U.74-78-74-74-300
Eric Michalak, Nassau CC79-76-75-72-302
Seth Nagle, Louisburg College78-75-74-76-303
Taylor Shuck, Minnesota St.CTC74-74-79-79-306
Darren McCormack, Suffolk CC75-76-75-80-307
Cody CederBerg, Central Lakes Coll.78-76-75-78-307
Juan Fernandez, Louisburg College76-79-73-79-307
Connor Salanger, Onondaga CC79-76-73-80-308
Brendan Ahrnsbrak, Anne Arundel CC 80-77-77-74-308