ACU’s first year in the Western Athletic Conference proved to be a success, as Coach Tom Shaw’s program won the conference championship on Sunday in Boulder City, Nevada. This is the first conference title for the Wildcats in school history.
The Wildcats climbed back from third and second place on Friday and Saturday and came out on top on Sunday against one seed Sam Houston, and three seed GCU with a finishing score of 7-under.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be conference champs,” said graduate student Alex Clouse. “I think a key reason we won was the culture of grit and resiliency we have established on our team. Each of us made clutch putts and hit great shots down the stretch to give ourselves a chance to win. We played and acted like a championship team and it was a lot of fun to be a part of.”
It was a total team effort for ACU to get the victory, but when it was time for a clutch play to be made, Clouse was able to seal the deal with the short putt after the Sam Houston bogey. Other early playmakers such as seniors Francisco Osio and Brian Choe, paved the way for early success with their confident swinging to put the team in title contention.
How ACU got to winning the championship was remarkably challenging, but so was proving the doubters wrong, as the Wildcats were picked fifth in the pre-championship tournament polls.
“The biggest takeaway is that no matter how bad it looked, we never gave up”, said junior Zane Huesel. “We started this semester finishing dead last. No one thought it was possible for us to win this week, but we proved everyone wrong. We have a strong team and our coaches are to thank for always pushing us.”
ACU’s season was filled with hills and valleys starting with the first spring tournament. The emphasis on accountability and self-improvement instilled by Coach Shaw and his staff turned out to be a championship formula for him and his team.
Every year the objective is to win it all, but especially this year as the team is filled with seniors that have left their mark on a program that has been searching for a special unit to bring home the first trophy.
“I was so thankful my family got to come out this week and win the championship with them,” Clouse said. “My mom would send me texts of encouragement before each round I played this semester, and those loving cheerful texts go a long way with me.”
Coach Shaw’s team is far from finished, and the Wildcats await to be seeded for their respected national championship rounds. No matter what happens in Scottsdale, Arizona, history has already been made at ACU.
“This may be our first conference championship, but it certainly won’t be our last,” Huesel said. “We want to thank everyone who has supported us and helped us get to this point, and we look forward to the opportunities that are to come.”