By Chandler Harris, Assistant Sports Editor
The Wildcat golf team received an at-large bid Friday to compete in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional tournament May 4-6. The tournament will be played at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
“There are a lot of very talented teams in our region,” head golf coach Mike Campbell said. “We know we can compete with all of them if we play our game. If we do, we have a good shot at going to nationals.”
There are 10 teams from the South Central Region and 10 from the Midwest Region. Campbell said the Wildcats have not yet competed against any of the teams from the Midwest Region. The University of Indianapolis from the Midwest Region is ranked No. 22 in the nation, and Ferris State is another top program, Campbell said.
The team played at The Meadows at Grand Valley State during the 2007 NCAA Division II National Championship. The lone Wildcat who played on that team who still remains is Patrick Hanuer. Campbell plans to take the same five players to the regional tournament that he took to the LSC Tournament: Cyril Bouniol, Hilton Funk, Hanuer, Zach Sadau and Jose Gutierrez. The team will play 54 holes, consisting of 18 holes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Along with ACU, the other teams competing in the South Central Region include: Central Oklahoma, Washburn, St. Edward’s, Northeastern State, Central Missouri, St. Mary’s, Texas A&M-Commerce, Missouri Southern State and Dallas Baptist.
Funk said ACU has been playing match play rounds among the team to build team spirit.
“We are trying to connect and play together as a team,” Funk said. “Our expectations are of course to make it to nationals, and we should make it.”
Funk said the team has done pretty well so far this season, but that it hasn’t shown its true potential.
“We have kind of been disappointed, but we should peak at the right time,” Funk said. “We are hoping to show that with our scores.”
Funk has not played The Meadows at Grand Valley State, but has heard it is supposed to be a really nice golf course with tight fairways and high roughs.
“It should be demanding, but I think it will suit our games well,” Funk said. “The fairways are narrow, but we are fairly good ball strikers.”
Funk said the team needs to stay positive leading up to the tournament.
“By playing together and having fun together, it kind of keeps us loose and positive and we can build each other up,” Funk said.
Out of the 20 teams competing next week, only the top five will move on to the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament in Blaine, Wash., on May 19-22.