Warriors golf makes first appearance at nationals
SILVIS, Ill. – The William Jessup University men's golf season concluded last month in a history-making appearance at the 66th Annual NAIA Men's Golf National Championship at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., with a total score of 1,230 (310-309-299-312) to finish tied for 8th in the country.
Warriors head coach Tim Hovancsek said the senior leadership of Johnnie Greco, Arick Koeth and Dale Thomas was a key factor in WJU’s success this year. He also said the team’s fourth-place finish at the Battle at Primm was the season’s turning point.
The Warriors led the way for the Golden State Athletic Conference with three teams represented in the national tournament. Behind the Warriors, The Master's University finished in the 11th slot with 1,232 points (305-316-294-317), while Arizona Christian finished in 17th place at 1,254 (297-323-307-327).
Making the program’s first appearance at the national championship, William Jessup was led by Greco and Thomas. In the first two rounds, Thomas led the Warriors with his 74-72, just four over par. Greco came back in the final two rounds posting a team-low 71-74 to finish 15th overall in individual competition.
For his efforts, Greco was named to the NAIA Golf Championship all-tournament team.
Thomas came in 17th shooting a four-round total 302 and Koeth was just 10 shots back at 312. Freshman Hunter Newlin demonstrated his potential firing a 319 total for the tournament.
Senior Cully “Pono” Ng closed out his career with a final round of 78. It was only the second tournament appearance this season for Ng.
"While Johnnie Greco is the most decorated athlete in program history, Dale Thomas has had a phenomenal year and got us into position to make the cut with his 74-72 start," Hovancsek said. "Yet freshman Hunter Newlin played on the biggest stage of his life with three of four scores counting toward the team total."
Also traveling with the competing five was freshman Dominic Salomone.
"Salomone excelled in fall with a top eighth and 16th finish,” Hovancsek said. “While tough to watch, he was here to support his brothers every step of the way."
Under the leadership of Hovancsek, the Warriors took home three titles in 11 tournament appearances this season. The Warriors did not finish any lower than fifth in any of their other tournaments.
In conference competition, Greco earned four individual titles and was the GSAC’s Player of the Year. Hovancsek was honored by the league as Coach of the Year.
"While the feeling and love I have for Him, WJU and my guys cannot be put into words, I have to praise God for one of the most amazing years of my life," Hovancsek said.