The Orion

Wildcats aim to repeat success in spring season

Kevin Lucena

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Justin Wiles taking a swing during a tournament last fall. The Chico State men's golf team finished last semester ranked second in its division. Orion file photo.

Led by All-American golfers Alistair Docherty, Justin Wiles and Lee Gearhart, the Chico State men’s golf team is eager to get back on the links.

Last semester, the team competed in five tournaments, picking up a pair of individual and team titles along the way.

The ‘Cats finished the semester ranked second in the nation by Golfstat.com and fourth in the coaches rankings.

“Our goal is to defend the tournaments we won,” said T.L. Brown, the team’s head coach. “We’re really going to focus on the players and what to do to get better as a team and as individuals.”

This week, The Orion takes a look at the team’s upcoming schedule for the spring semester and how the Wildcats performed in the same tournaments last year.

Coyote Classic – Feb. 23-24

San Bernardino

To kick off the season the Wildcats will visit Arrowhead Country Club in a tournament where Gearhart went home as a medalist and the team claimed first place.

However, Gearhart’s status as the season begins is still up in the air. He is set to visit his doctor Monday to see if he is fully recovered from a shoulder injury he suffered that required surgery.

Sacramento State Intercollegiate Cup – March 9-10

Elk Grove

Wiles was the team’s top finisher at Valley Hi Country Club last year, coming in sixth place, followed by Gearhart in 12th. The ‘Cats took second as a team, finishing seven strokes behind the winner, Northern Colorado.

California Baptist Invitational – March 23-24

Corona

One of two new tournaments on the team’s schedule takes it further south to the Menifee Lakes Country Club. Last year the tournament was won by 12th-ranked Western New Mexico State.

Tim Tierney West Region Preview – March 30-31

Vallejo

Cal State East Bay plays host to the second new tournament on the schedule, playing three rounds at the famed Hiddenbrooke Golf Club.

Hanny Stanislaus Invitational – April 13-14

Turlock

This was another tournament where Gearhart won individual titles. The Wildcats also took second place as a team, while Docherty finished seventh.

CCAA Championships – April 20-22

Stockton

Last year the Wildcats took fourth as a team at the conference championships, led by Gearhart in second and Docherty, who finished in tenth place.

This year, the California Collegiate Athletic Association has switched up the conference championships, adding a team match play round to the format.

“I’m really looking forward to the conference championships because they switched it to be more like nationals,” Wiles said. “We start with eight schools before going on to match play.”

NCAA Championship Super Regional – May 4-6

Vallejo

The Wildcats return to Vallejo at the beginning of May as one of 27 schools in the tournament. Last year Chico State took second place, led by Docherty’s seventh-place finish.

NCAA Championships – May 18-22

Conover, North Carolina

Following last year’s third-place finish as a team and losing to eventual match play champions Barry University in the semifinals in Michigan, the Wildcats return to North Carolina for the second time this year.

The biggest challenges will be Monterey Bay and Nova Southeastern, Docherty said.

“I’d love to play Nova in the finals because if we want to win it all we have to beat the best,” Docherty said. “And right now they are the best and have the top Division II golfer in the country.”

Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @klucena824 on Twitter.

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Wildcats aim to repeat success in spring season