PLYMOUTH, Ind. (release) -- The Walters State Senators golf team made history Friday afternoon, capturing the program’s first-ever golf national championship and also making WSCC the first junior college in the state of Tennessee to claim national titles in two different sports.
The Senators had a rough day on the links in the final round of the NJCAA Division II National Championship Golf Tournament on the Black Course at Swan Lake Resort, but the end of the day was when the sun shined brightest of the boys in blue and red.
Walters State, playing with five sophomores that finished second at last year’s national tournament, shot a final round 308 (20-over par) to finish the four-day tournament at 1189 (37-over par), putting them 11 shots clear of second place finishing Mesa (Ariz.), as they shot a final round 303 to end up at 1200.
The Senators were bolstered by having two players make both the All-Tournament Team and First Team All-American, as they both finished in the top eight, and they had another make Honorable Mention All-American with a 20th place showing.
Brad Hawkins led Walters State with a four-day score of six-over par 294 (78-69-73-74) to finish sixth overall and claim his spot on the All-American and All-Tournament Teams.
Cody Johnson capped his tremendous four-day effort with a final round 75 to shoot nine-over par 297 (75-78-69-75) to end up in eight place and also on the All-American and All-Tournament Teams.
Andrew Hall narrowly missed out on Second Team All-American honors, as his 20th place finish at 14-over par 302 (74-75-74-79) landed him among the Honorable Mentions.
Will Wright, who’s first round score of 72 helped put the Senators in front for a wire-to-wire win, finished with a total of 17-over par 305 (72-81-72-80) to end the event tied for 28th position.
Ryne Thompson carded a final round score of 86 and finished the event in 57th place with a score of 314 (76-74-78-86).
Walters State golf coach Bill Gardner, who had coached an individual national champion in Ryan Cabbage back in 1995, finally got to put his hands on the national championship trophy for the team, becoming the second coach at the college to guide his team to a national title.
Ken Campbell coached the baseball team to a national championship in 2006, and the golf national title made Walters State the first junior college in Tennessee to win multiple national championships and a title in two sports. Aquinas College (men’s basketball, 1991), Roane State (women’s basketball, 1984) and Chattanooga State (softball, 2012) are the other schools to win a title in the history of the TCCAA.
Gardner, who has also coached the men’s basketball and baseball programs during his tenure at Walters State, was named the NJCAA National Coach of the Year after the tournament’s conclusion. He has now coached a national championship golf team and a JUCO World Series baseball team at WSCC.
Mississippi Gulf Coast finished third in the team race at 1214, followed by Black Hawk (Ill.) in fourth at 1218 and Owens (Ohio) in fifth at 1219. Tyler (Tex.) was sixth at 1224, followed by Lackwanna (Pa.) in seventh at 1226, Southeast Nebraska in eighth at 1228, Grad Rapids (Mich.) in ninth at 1231 and Parkland (Ill.) in 10th at 1233.
Levi Fink of North Iowa Area College was the individual winner at one-under par 287, followed by Tyler’s Charlie Cameron and Mineral (Mo.) Area’s Tanner McKinney in a tied for second at 289.