Hawks place 2nd, Mathers places 3rd in NCAA Tournament

Huntingdon placed second in the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships to tie the Hawks' best finish during the NCAA era. Junior Drew Mathers (second from right) and senior Stephen Shephard (far right) each earned first-team All-American honors. (Photo submitted)
Huntingdon placed second in the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships to tie the Hawks' best finish during the NCAA era. Junior Drew Mathers (second from right) and senior Stephen Shephard (far right) each earned first-team All-American honors. (Photo submitted)

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. – The Huntingdon men's golf team turned in its best four-round total of the NCAA era and placed second to match its best finish in the Division III Men's Golf Championships.

Second-ranked Huntingdon shot a 9-over-par 297 in Friday's final round at Keene Trace Golf Club to finish the tournament with a 25-over 1177. Third-ranked Illinois Wesleyan won the tournament with a 22-over 1174.

This was the Hawks' fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the second runner-up finish in that span.

"It's strange what a difference a few years can make in your expectations," Huntingdon Director of Golf Dave Schreyer said. "In 2016, we were so excited to finish as the runner-up. But this year, we are devastated. Our goal was a championship this season.

"The tournament didn't start the way we wanted and today's round didn't go the way we wanted, but the guys did not give up. I'm really proud of the effort our guys gave. There is no quit in this team."

The Hawks' 1177 is the program's best four-round total during the NCAA era, breaking the 2010 team's record of 1181 in the NCAA Tournament. To put this week's performance in perspective, the total is 12 strokes better than last season's NCAA Tournament performance, 13 strokes better than the 2017 NCAA Tournament and 27 strokes better than the 2016 team's runner-up performance.

Huntingdon junior Drew Mathers finished three strokes out of first and placed third with an even-par 288. Mathers, the second-ranked golfer in Division III, shot a 1-over 73 in the final round. Senior Stephen Shephard, the third-ranked golfer in Division III, shot 2-over 74 in the final round and tied for sixth with a 5-over 293.

Williams College's Sam Goldenring earned medalist honors with a 3-under 285.

Mathers and Shephard were both announced as first-team All-Americans at the completion of the tournament.

This is Mathers' first All-American recognition and the third time Shephard has earned All-American status. Shephard was a second-team selection the past two seasons.

"It was great to see Drew and Stephen be named first-team All-American," Schreyer said. "Stephen's leadership and consistent play will be missed but not forgotten.  He has made a lasting mark on this program. As for Drew, he had another great week and may have done enough to win the Nicklaus award.  I'm excited to see where his game will be his senior year."

In addition to Mathers and Shephard, senior Henry Gee tied for 11th with a 7-over 295. Gee shot a 1-over 73 in the final round.

Mathers, Shephard and Gee's performances each rank in the top-seven four-round totals by Huntingdon golfers during the NCAA era. Mathers' 288 is the best four-round total by a Hawk during the NCAA era.  Shephard's 293 is tied for the fourth best and Gee's 295 is tied for seventh.

Senior Mark Connelly closed the tournament with a 6-over 78 in the final round and tied for 49th with a 306. Freshman Carson Whitton shot 5-over 77 in the final round and tied for 57th with a 308.

Huntingdon closed the season with four wins and four second-place finishes in its final eight tournaments.