Press Release from Arkansas State Athletics
The Arkansas State men’s golf team’s Sun Belt Conference championship season came to a close Wednesday at the NCAA Championships’ Louisville Regional, where the Red Wolves finished 11th out of 13 teams with a 54-hole 878 score.
The Red Wolves’ 11th-place finish among a loaded field that included five top-25 and nine top-50 nationally ranked teams was their best ever at a NCAA Regional. Ranked 35th in the nation itself, A-State was making its fifth all-time appearance in the NCAA Championships and its first since 2002.
The squad also produced its lowest three-round score ever at an NCAA Regional, topping its previous best of 880 shot at the 2000 NCAA Central Regional in Victoria, Texas. Although A-State placed 11th after recording a final-round 293 at the University of Louisville GolfClub, it finished only one stroke behind 10th-place Southern Illinois.
A-State stood in 10th place at the conclusion of the opening day and entered today’s play in ninth after posting a 295 and 290 for the first and second rounds, respectively.
“This was a good experience for our team, but it obviously wasn’t the finish we wanted,” said A-State head coach Mike Hagen. “We were disappointed after today with just how we played over the last three days, but we prepared well and gave great effort. I told the guys not to let three days or one event define their season, which you can’t. They’ve rewritten the record books this year, and it seems like the team or someone’s name is at the top of every single category.
“We lose some important pieces from this team next year, but we also have the three highest ranked players coming back and a fifth-year senior in Matt Cole. Along with what we’re adding, I think we can build off the year we had and continue to get better. A foundation was laid the last three years, and this was kind of a breakout year for us. Our current guys and the ones before them should be proud of that.”
Arkansas State was led by junior Julien Sale, who finished tied for 25th place with a combined 216 (75-70-71). Not only did he become the first A-State player to ever place among the top 25 individuals at a regional, his 216 combined score tied Jason Jackson (2000) for the lowest ever by an A-State player in the NCAA Championships.
A three-time Sun Belt Conference Golfer of the Week selection this season, junior Zan Luka Stirn tied for 45th place along with two-time All-Sun Belt pick and senior Joel Wendin. They both ended the tournament with a 54-hole 221. Stirn shot a 73 for both the first and second rounds and a 75 for the second 18 holes, while Wendin carded an opening-round 72 that was followed by a 73 and 76.
Also competing for A-State, freshman Luka Naglic finished tied for 55th place with a 224 (75-76-73) and junior Matt Cole tied for 59th with a 225 (77-72-76).
A-State’s season saw it claim five tournament championships, the second most in school history, while earning a school-record No. 18 national ranking at one point. It concludes the year with the best all-time scoring average since at least 1993, and records indicate probably in the history of the program.
ARKANSAS STATE RESULTS
Place, Name (RD 1-RD 2-RD 3—Total)
11, Arkansas State (295-290-293—878)
T25, Julien Sale (75-70-71—216)
T45, Zan Luka Stirn (73-75-73—221)
T45, Joel Wendin (72-73-76—221)
T55, Luka Naglic (75-76-73—224)
T59, Matthew Cole (77-72-76—225)