GREENVILLE, Pa. (pacathletics.org)–After posting its league-best 19th Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) team title last spring, the Washington & Jefferson College men’s golf program was picked as the favorite in this year’s PAC preseason coaches’ poll, as voted on by the conference’s seven head coaches. The results of the poll were announced along with the PAC’s Players to Watch List Wednesday.
W&J, winners of 11 conference titles since 2000, made its eighth appearance in the NCAA Division III Championships last May. The Presidents tied for 30th in the 41-team field. W&J has earned the league’s automatic qualifying bid seven times since 2008.
Led by fifth-year head coach Matt Kluck, a two-time (2018, 2019) PAC Coach of the Year honoree, W&J collected five of seven first-place votes and 40 total points to earn the poll’s top spot.
Westminster College and seventh-year head coach Matt Torrence finished second in this year’s poll with one first-place vote and 35 points. The Titans were fourth at last year’s championships. Grove City College and fourth-year head coach Brad Isles finished third in the poll, securing the final first-place vote and 32 points. The Wolverines finished as the runners-up at the 2018-19 championships.
Saint Vincent College finished in fourth (31) and was followed by Thiel College in fifth (22), Waynesburg University in sixth (16) and Bethany College in seventh (13).
Last spring, the PAC hosted the third and final round of the PAC Championships at Oglebay Resort’s Speidel Golf Club and Robert Trent Jones, Sr. course in Wheeling, W.Va. for the second-straight year. The Presidents posted a 318 on April 27 to finish with a 54-hole total of 930.
W&J opened last fall’s two-round event with a 312 before cutting 12 strokes on day two to record a 300 (612). For the third-straight year, the fall championships were played at the Avalon Golf and Country Club in Warren, Ohio. The men completed their two fall championship rounds at Avalon Lakes Golf Course.
A combined eight All-PAC First (3), Second (1) and Honorable Mention (4) selections from last season are slated to return this fall.
W&J senior Jake Darr (Middletown, Md. | Middletown) headlines this year’s returners. He finished as last year’s runner-up with a 54-hole score of 228 after firing a 79 in last spring’s final round. Darr shared 2018 fall medalist honors with recent Grove City gradate Cole McCook (Chester Springs, Pa. | Downingtown STEM Academy) after each posted 149’s at Avalon Lakes last October. McCook claimed 2019 PAC Player of the Year honors after registering a three-round score of 226. He was also tabbed the league’s player of the year in 2017.
Darr tied for 78th place with a two-round score of 155 at the Division III Championships in May, which were held at the Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.
The players to watch list also includes four members of the Spring 2019 PAC Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes on varsity sports teams who have earned a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale during their semester of competition.
This year’s PAC Championships will once again feature a 54-hole stroke play event, with 36 holes played Monday-Tuesday, October 7-8 at the Avalon Golf and Country Club. The women will play a pair of rounds at Squaw Creek Golf Course in Vienna, Ohio, while the men will complete two rounds at Avalon Lakes.
The final 18 holes of this year’s women’s championship are scheduled to be contested Saturday, April 18 at Chestnut Ridge Golf Course, Blairsville, Pa. The men’s championship will wrap up Saturday, April 25 at Oglebay Resort’s Speidel Golf Club with a round on the Robert Trent Jones, Sr. course.
The All-PAC teams, along with the PAC Players of the Year, are determined by the combined 54-hole scores from the fall and spring championships. The All-PAC teams are made up of the top 15 overall scorers (5 first team, 5 second team, 5 honorable mention). The combined 54-hole team totals determine the PAC team champions and winners of the league’s automatic qualifying bids to the Division III Championships.
This year’s Division III Championships are scheduled for May 12-15, 2020 at The Champions course at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.