By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
After a fourth-place finish at the 2017 National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA) Fall Nationals in December, the Grand Canyon University Club Golf team is preparing for another shot at a national championship. Over the weekend, the Lopes took their first step towards their goal as they competed in the first round of NCCGA Regionals at the Ken McDonald Golf Course in Tempe.
Behind the strong play of Joey Russo and Tristan Koyl, who finished second and fourth respectively, the Lopes bagged a second-place finish, falling only two strokes behind in-state rival Arizona State University.
Despite narrowly missing a first-place finish, Lopes’ Head Coach John Wasson was very pleased.
“They all played great this weekend,” said Wasson. “Some of the players definitely could’ve done better, but overall, everyone played really well.”
A key part of the Lopes’ success can be traced back to the level of experience on the team as all but two athletes have prior experience in regional competition.
“Based off of our experiences in the fall, there is a level of maturity that is better, and they are more comfortable in these tournaments,” noted Wasson.
With this growing level of maturity and comfort, the Lopes are well on their way to vying for the national championship in St. Louis later this April.
“We are right about where I thought we would be at this point in the season,” explained Wasson. “We should be there in St. Louis, since we are ranked third in the nation, as long as we keep the ship righted and continue to press on.”
Of course, the Lopes will also look to benefit from a change in scenery when the second regional tournament rolls around April 7th in Prescott. “We’ve played at (Antelope Hills Golf Course) before, and some of our guys know the golf course pretty well,” noted Wasson. “It’s neutral territory, so I think we have the advantage, since we aren’t playing at ASU’s home course again.”
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