Wallace State would’ve loved to win its annual fall invitational tournament, but coming up just short to a strong Central Alabama squad is only a sign of good things to come for longtime coach Dan York.
His No. 8 Lions wound up finishing only five strokes back of preseason No. 1 Central Alabama, which wrapped up the kickoff classic championship Tuesday at the Cullman Golf Course with a 54-hole total of 837 (27-under).
“We have the talent on this team to compete on a weekly basis with Central, and my goodness, if you can do that with the defending national champions, I look for great things from this golf program and this golf team,” York said of Wallace State’s runner-up result. “Sure, I’m disappointed we lost, but we got beat by five shots. That’ll be easy to make up.”
Central Alabama’s Tim Walker turned in crazy-consistent cards of 67-67-66 to reach 16-under and claim low-medalist honors. He barely edged out Wallace State’s Chris Atchley, who sandwiched a second-round 72 with a pair of 65s to cap off an impressive 14-under performance.
Walker and Atchley ran away with the first two spots on the All-Tournament Team, which was rounded out by Faulkner’s Cam Norman (71-66-70), 9-under; Central Alabama’s Chase Humber (66-69-73), 8-under; and Darton’s Josh Glossop (73-68-69) and Taylor Martin (71-71-68), 6-under.
York has been watching Atchley, a Huntsville native, progress since his days at Buckhorn High. That includes a complete turnaround from the 2012 Wallace State Fall Invitational, where Atchley finished tied for 12th at 3-over.
“To see him come back this year and shoot 14-under for three rounds, that just shows you how hard he’s worked,” York said of the sophomore, whose 65s were the low rounds of the tournament. “I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of all the young men. All of us have room for improvement, so we’re going to work on it.”
The Lions’ No. 1, Aksel Olsen (72-69-70), was all by his lonesome in seventh at 5-under, while the team’s No. 2, Cooper Brown (70-71-73), tied for 10th at 2-under. The results for Wallace State’s other ‘A’ team golfers were Patrick Twesme (68-75-73), even par, and Will McDowell (77-74-74), 9-over.
The Lions’ ‘B’ squad didn’t fare quite as well as its first-team counterparts, though Darrick Fisher (70-73-74) led the way with a 1-over finish. Jake Miller (72-75-77) was next in line at 8-over, followed by Ryan Bowie (77-76-72) at 9-over and Dustin Schultz (75-75-78) at 12-over.
Darton and Faulkner were well back of Central Alabama and Wallace State in a tie for third place at 855 (9-under). Eastern Florida State College, formerly Brevard Community College, was fifth at 862 (2-under).
The Lions enjoyed a three-shot advantage after the first round before Central Alabama took over and held on tight. The Trojans built a three-shot cushion following the second round and extended it to five by the time all was said and done.
Wallace State will now have a little over a month to prepare for the NJCAA National Preview Tournament, which will be Oct. 14-15 in Burlington, Iowa.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at email@example.com.