INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For just the third time in school history and the first occurrence in consecutive seasons, The Jacksonville University men's golf team is headed to an NCAA Regional. The Dolphins heard their name called on the 2018 NCAA Men's Golf Selection Show, which aired on the Golf Channel Wednesday evening. JU will head to Columbus, Ohio, May 14-16, as the No. 10 seed in the regional hosted by Ohio State.
"Making regionals was one of the goals we wet when we started the year, so it's very nice to reach that point and have a chance to keep playing," Head Coach Mike Blackburn said. "It's a great validation for the players that they're doing the right things, and it shows our progress on the course. We're excited to be going to Columbus, and for what the trip holds."
Jacksonville returns to postseason play after earning its first NCAA Regional berth in 11 years last season, advancing to the NCAA Championships for the first time ever. Entering the 2017 competition with a program-best No. 42 ranking, the No. 7 seeded Dolphins defeated Northwestern in a sudden-death playoff to clinch the final qualifying place to the final stage of play. The 'Phins concluded their run in a tie for 26th place, standing as one of just 30 NCAA men's golf programs to qualify.
Ranked No. 62 in the latest GolfStat rankings, the 'Phins have been placed as high as No. 57 during the spring portion of this season. The team holds an average score of 286.24 through 25 rounds in nine tournaments on the year, shooting just 0.48 versus par. JU racked up five top-5 finishes during the 2017-18 campaign, including a win at the Bridgestone Stroke Play for the second time in three years, and runner-up places at the Tar Heel and Seminole Intercollegiate tournaments.
The team took third (18-over, 586) at the 2018 ASUN Championship, which lasted just 36-holes due to heavy rains in the area. After the first round of play commenced as planned at the Legends Course at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga., day two was postponed, and the final round saw the course shortened to a par-70, 6577 link. Senior Raul Pereda and Freshman Michael Sakane tied for fifth place in the affair (even, 142), becoming the first duo to finish top-5 in postseason play since 2006.
A First-Team All-ASUN Selection this season, Pereda was slotted as the No. 36 golf in the country in the latest GolfStat.com rankings, becoming the highest-ranked player that Jacksonville has boasted in its nearly 60-year history. The Cordoba, Mexico native averaged a 70.20 score through 25 rounds this season, earning five top-5 finishes and shooting 18 rounds under par.
Jacksonville saw a program-record six different players given ASUN Postseason awards, with senior Elliott Fullalove and sophomore Eduardo Carrete earning Second-Team ASUN honors, Sakane claiming ASUN Freshman of the Year and taking a spot on the All-Freshmen team along with Aaeri Krishnan, and junior Sam Uhland placing on the All-Academic squad with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
The Dolphins will trek to the state of Ohio for a tournament for the first time in at least 25 years and will play in the Northeast for the first time since competing in Sugar Grove, Ill. Last season, where the 2017 NCAA Championships were held. The men's golf program stands with baseball as the only JU teams to ever earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA Regionals will take place May 14-16 with three regionals hosting 13 teams and three regionals hosting 14 teams. From the 81-teams selected to participate in the NCAA Regionals this season, 30 will advance to the NCAA Championships on May 25-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. The top-five teams from each regional site will advance, while the top individual from a non-advancing team also moves on to the NCAA Championship.
2018 NCAA Columbus Regional
Teams (in order of seed
1. Oklahoma State
2. Illinois (Big Ten Conference automatic bid)
3. Texas Tech
4. UNLV (Mountain West Conference automatic bid)
5. Wake Forest
7. Penn State
11. Michigan State
12. Yale (The Ivy League automatic bid)
13. Cleveland State (Horizon League automatic bid)
1. Kyle Mueller, Michigan
2. Matthew Naumec, Boston College
3. Alex Schaake, Iowa
4. Patrick Flavin, Miami (Ohio)
5. David Kocher, Maryland
6. Daniel Wetterich, Ohio State
7. Peter Knade, Maryland
8. Jacob Poore, Northern Kentucky
9. Zach Schroeder, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne
10. Nick Wilkins, Morehead State