The golf team at my alma mater, West Virginia University, will make its first appearance at the NCAA golf regionals since 1947.
Needless to say, WVU is not exactly a golf school. Basketball, yes. (WVU is, after all, where Jerry West played and future Hall of Fame Coach Bob Huggins now leads). Football also has been a success story (a career 719-477-45 record — the winningest team without a national title). The Rifle Team has 26 individual NCAA National Champions, and 19 team championships. The baseball team has twelve NCAA Tournament Appearances and currently is in the top 20 in all six (yes, there are six) college baseball polls.
WVU is more than respectable in pretty much every sport it fields. But golf … not so much. In fact, WVU ended its golf program in 1982.
In 2015, however, with WVU now a member of the Big 12 Conference, men’s golf returned. It surely has been a difficult task for Coach Sean Covich to compete with a startup team against established golf powerhouses like Texas and Oklahoma State. It also has to be difficult in the mountains where cold and snow restrict the practice season.
This year, WVU returns to the NCAA regionals as the eighth seeded team in the Louisville regional.
“To be an eight seed in Louisville is awesome,” coach Sean Covich said. “I’m just happy for guys like Max Sear and Tristan Nicholls; the two seniors who were part of our first recruiting class. Without Max and Tristan, we wouldn’t be at this point. This year, it’s been a team effort. Everybody has pitched in. Logan (Perkins) has played well at the right time, Mark Goetz has played well at the right time. Philly (Philipp Matlari) has played well, Pap (Etienne Papineau) has played well. Obviously, Sharp (Matthew Sharpstene) has done great. Kurtis (Grant) is just a freshman. He helped us out big time in the first event of the year and has been in the lineup a lot. It’s been a team effort. That’s the reason we’re here now.”
In Louisville, the Mountaineers will compete against Big 12 rival and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State, No. 2 seed Auburn, No. 3 seed North Florida, No. 4 seed Louisville, No. 5 seed Baylor, No. 6 seed Arkansas State, No. 7 seed Iowa State, No. 9 seed Arizona, No. 10 seed Mississippi State, No. 11 seed New Mexico, No. 12 seed Jacksonville State and No. 13 seed Southern Illinois.
Six 54-hole NCAA regional tournaments will be conducted from May 13-15. Thirteen teams and 10 individuals not on those teams will compete at each of three regionals while the other three regionals will have 14 teams and five individuals not on those teams. The low five teams and the low individuals not on those teams from each regional will advance to the finals.
NCAA team- and individual-medalist titles will be decided from May 24-29, at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Let’s Go Mountaineers!