Wildcats Finish Successful Men's Golf Season
May 11, 2001
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Despite being edged out of its first NCAA appearance in eight years when the tournament participants were announced on Tuesday, May 8, the Kansas State men's golf team is a program on the rise.
The Wildcats finished eighth in the NCAA District V rankings. Only the top seven schools in each district advanced to NCAA play.
K-State was coming off an eighth-place showing at the Big 12 Conference Championship two weeks ago in Hutchinson, Kan. That finish came after being chosen 11th in a pre-tournament poll by the league coaches.
The Wildcats' finish was their best Big 12 showing since 1997, the inaugural season of the league. Ranked among the top-10 teams in the district throughout much of the season, K-State held the No. 7 spot as late as last week. The 'Cats were behind four Big 12 schools (No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Colorado) and just ahead of Arkansas State, which passed the Wildcats to claim the seventh and final slot in the NCAA field.
"As disappointing as it was to not advance to the NCAAs, we can't let that overshadow our season," said head coach Tim Norris. "A lot of positive things happened for us this season. Out of the eight players that competed for us this season, seven posted a top-12 finish and five of those had at least one top-five finish."
Norris has a lot to look forward to, as all five of the players who competed for him at the league championship - junior Matt Williams, freshman Aaron Watkins, junior Bryan Milberger, freshman A.J. Elgert and freshman Bryan Schweizer - return to Manhattan next season. In fact, the fourth-year head coach will lose only senior Dan Demory off his talented squad.
Among the accomplishments this year included a school-record performance from Williams and four top-five finishes from its trio of freshmen, the most top-five showings by any school in the nation. Williams posted a 7-under-par 64 at the Branson Creek Invitational (April 14-15). That score eclipsed the school record of 67 set by Brett Vuillemin at the Texas Intercollegiate on Sept. 26, 1988.
Watkins, Elgert and Schweizer, meanwhile, combined to post four top-five finishes on the year. That mark tied Central Florida for the most in the nation by freshmen this season.
With the addition of junior college All-American Tim Moody and the seasoning of its youthful corps, there seems to be nowhere to go but up for Norris and the Wildcats' links team.