The NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship is anything but a new experience for Transy’s Men’s Golf team. This year marks the 11th consecutive appearance in the championship for the pioneers. This comes after winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the 11th year.
While the team has made the tournament since 2006, there is only one player on this year’s five man team that has been there before. Sophomore Blake Young finished the season in seventh place at the HCAC tournament and 51st at last year’s NCAA Championship. Joining him on the team will be First-year Spencer McKinney who finished the HCAC tournament in fifth place. Junior Clay Church, who finished tied for 12th place at the HCAC tournament, will also join them. The fourth member of the team, junior Carson Wattenbarger, finished tied for 23rd place in the HCAC tournament. The final member of the team, senior Rob Canady, won the individual HCAC championship and was named the 2017 HCAC Most Valuable Player for Men’s Golf. Canady, in addition to the 2017 HCAC Most Valuable Player, was named to the 2017 Division III PING All-Region Team, as was as a Srixon/Cleveland All-America Scholar. When asked about his successful final season with the Pioneers, Canady had this to say, “It feels really great to have won the conference championship and conference MVP in not only my senior year but also my first time playing in the conference championship. But more importantly, I was so excited that we were able to come together as a team and win the conference championship and earn a spot in the NCAA championship. We have all put in a lot of hard work and effort this year and it was really awesome to see that pay off this past weekend. It was a big moment for us as a team because we obviously had a lot of pressure on us to win after winning the last 10 in a row and we were able to get through that and win. I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the NCAA championship to maybe finally win one, especially since we all have a lot of experience on the course at Mission Inn. I’d really like to thank Coach Lane and Coach Latham for being such great coaches and getting us into position to compete like we have, all of the parents for their support all year and all of my teammates for making this such a great final golf season.”
Mission Inn, the site of the NCAA Championship is a familiar venue to the Pioneers. Earlier this season, Transy competed in the NCAA Preview Tournament which was played at the same site. In the 2012 season, which would end in Transy being runner up, Mission Inn was again the site of the Championship. The first round of the championship would find Transy in a four way tie for 14th place. This puts them only 11 strokes behind the current leader of the tournament, Huntingdon College, who finished the first day with 293 shots. Individually McKinney would be in a 14 way tie for 25th place. Church and Young both finished only one stroke behind McKinney. Wattenbarger finished the day at eight over par 80 and Canady with a 84.