MELBOURNE, Fla. – The Eastern Wyoming College golf capped off a historic season with a 13th-place finish at the NJCAA National Golf Championships.
The Lancer run to nationals saw the team win 11 of the 13 tournaments they participated in during the 2018-19 season, including 10 victories during Region IX action.
“It was awesome. It was a special week for us,” EWC coach Zack Smith said. “It was our best finish we’ve ever had at nationals. The guys worked really hard this year, and it paid off.”
Before the four rounds which comprised the national tournament, the Lancers were allowed to play two practice rounds on the unfamiliar Duran Golf Club.
“Sunday, we learned a lot about the course. Where to hit it and where not to hit it and took a lot of notes on the course guides. Monday’s practice round, we played more of a normal round to get prepared,” Smith said. “Those two practice rounds were huge.”
All five golfers EWC took to Florida contributed at some point over the week.
“Like all year, everyone was a contributor,” Smith said. “George (Elliott), Harry (Walch) and Gonzalo (Arcelay) for the most part, my sophomores, have been steady all year and were while we were down there. The two freshmen, Mason (Hale) and R.J. (Moya), when we needed them, they stepped up and played well.”
Walch led the Lancers with a week finished tied for 27th, capping the weekend off with a final score of 69. For the week, the Staines, England native shot a one over par 289 for the four rounds.
“He right there. A stroke or two goes a long way. He was one or two from being an All-American, and on the other side, he was one or two from being further down the road,” Smith said. “I’m super happy for him. He’s as hard of a worker as you can get. He’s not a long hitter so he’s got to really work his craft. It was fun to see him finish as our top guy and finish his Lancer career with a 69 at the national tournament.”
Arcelay tied for 46th with a 296, while Elliott and Moya tied for 75th at 303. Hale ended the week tied for 96th with a 312.
“Mason got off to a slow start the first two rounds, but his two last rounds, were really strong,” Smith said. “That was promising because one of those days, we absolutely needed one of those rounds. Moving into next year, that was a big confidence boost for him.”
As a team, the Lancers hung around the top 10 all week, ultimately ending up 13th. EWC shot 31 over par for a week total of 1,183.
Central Alabama Community College won the team title with a 36 under par week for a total 1,116.
Smith is already looking forward to next season despite already missing his sophomores.
“We have a pretty good class (coming in),” Smith said. “I’m excited about the core group returning, and the group we have coming in are quality golfers. Their tournament scores and handicaps look pretty salty, but we’ll find out where we are next year. They are pretty good students, as well, on paper.”