LUBBOCK, Texas —
Every break and every shot they needed, they found each of the past two years to win a national title.
Even for the Indian Hills golf program, all good things eventually come to an end. Such was the case this season as the Warriors fought hard to find a way at holding onto their grip atop the world of junior college golf world.
It just wasn't meant to be this season. IHCC could not find a way to rise up the leaderboard after starting 16th after day one. Indian Hills moved up to 11th by the end of the final day of the tournament, finishing with a one-over par 73 on Friday at The Rawls Course in Lubbock, Texas and a 26-over-par four-round total of 1178.
For whatever reason, Indian Hills just could not make a run at a third straight national championship.
"The guys fought hard the last two days. They fought hard the entire tournament," IHCC head men's golf coach Mike Hagen said. "I just saw the same things that I saw starting with the second round at districts. We just can't get the doggone ball in the hole."
"It's a trend that started there and that's why we finished 11th."
Sophomore William White made sure Indian Hills didn't leave the national tournament empty-handed. The Illinois native fired his third straight sub-par round with a one-under final round 71, finishing with a two-under 286 total to tie for 11th place to earn All-American honors.
Hagen talked about White, Mitch Tucker, Ben Ludlam and Kevin Workman as well as the remainder of the Warrior sophomore class that brought the second straight national title last year and third title in program history.
"They're all great, talented young men," Hagen said. "I just don't know what happened here at the tale end of the season. We just couldn't score. We struggled to put the ball in with a low number. The guys listened to me, they tried to execute. They just couldn't get it done."
Central Alabama rallied from behind on the final day of the tournament to win the national championship. The top-ranked squad beat out second-ranked Odessa by one stroke, 1150-1151, with a five-under final round.
"There are so many programs that would to love to have the tradition we have and do the things we've done," Hagen said. "I also feel like if I we were going to lose, I'm glad the title went over to Central Alabama. (Head coach) Dave Jennings is a friend of mine and they carry themselves as professionals."
"It's a solid program with a solid coach. If I had to lose the title to someone, I can sleep well knowing we lost to them."
Connor Peck, IHCC's low freshman this season, finished his first national tournament appearance in a tie for 48th with final-round 73 and a four-round 297 total. Hagen talked about the future of the Warrior program, which figures to see Indian Hills be right back in the hunt for a third national title in four years next spring.
"People always talk about streaks and things like that. I always look at it as another team winning a national title. Instead of a three in a row, we'll try to win three in four years next year," Hagen said. "The guys that have played for me these last two years have played great for me. Even though we're sad with how the season ended, the guys didn't lay down. They fought hard for every shot. I don't feel we were embarassed."
NJCAA Division I National Golf Tournament, Final Round
At The Rawls Course, Lubbock, Texas
(*-won in playoff)
Team scoring — 1. Central Alabama 299-296-272-283-1150, 2. Odessa 291-297-278-285-1151, 3. Scottsdale 295-298-276-286-1155, 4. Johnson County 296-289-287-285-1157, 5. Brevard 299-297-276-287-1159, 6. Iowa Western 295-289-291-288-1163, 7. Wallace State 298-286-290-290-1164, 8. New Mexico Junior College 303-296-279-287-1165, 9. Midland 291-284-301-291-1167, 10. McLennan 294-284-292-299-1169, 11. Indian Hills 304-296-289-289-1178, 12. Darton 300-295-289-297-1181, 13. USC-Lancaster 297-303-295-290-1185, T14. Western Texas 307-290-302-289-1188, T14. Hutchinson 302-296-296-294-1188, T16. Dodge City 307-291-295-298-1191, T16. Meridian 307-290-296-298-1191, 18. Wake Tech 303-303-295-291-1192, 19. Faulkner State 307-300-298-288-1199, 20. Pima 309-304-298-288-1199, 21. Eastern Arizona 306-299-296-302-1203, 22. North Idaho 309-299-300-296-1204, 23. Garden City 302-299-303-307-1211, 24. Trinidad State 317-300-296-307-1220.
*-Medalist — Aksel Olsen (Wallace State) 70-70-74-67-281.
Runner-up — T.J. Morgan (Meridian) 76-68-67-70-281.
IHCC Individuals — **-T11. William White 74-70-71-71-286, T48. Connor Peck 75-75-74-73-297, T54. Ben Ludlam 80-75-73-70-298, T77. Mitch Tucker 79-76-72-75-302, T107. Kevin Workman 76-86-73-75-310.