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Warriors finish fifth in NSAA Championships

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Matt Oliver

LINCOLN, Nebraska – The Waldorf University men’s golf team closed out the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Championships with a fifth-place finish.

Concluding the final round on Tuesday, the Warriors put together an 18-hole team score of 317 to finish with a 1,284-stroke total in the cumulative 72-hole conference tournament that held its first two rounds in September at Oxbow, North Dakota. The final round marked Waldorf’s second-best outing of the tournament.

“I think we finished off very well,” Waldorf coach Mark Clouse said. “We had a pretty big deficit to climb out of heading into the event, but overall we had a good performance, so it was a nice way to end the year.”

Hugo Becerra led the Warriors, securing fourth with a 305-stroke performance. The junior from Ocotlan, Mexico earned first-team all-conference honors as he fired a 78 and 77 during the final two rounds on the par-71 layout at Wilderness Ridge Golf Course.

“He’s had a great year,” Clouse said. “He’s definitely one of the best players in the conference. To have him vying for that individual title was a very good way for him to see where his game is at and look to compete for that individual crown next year.”

Waldorf’s Rick Young tied for 14th, shooting a 325. The senior from Garner carded rounds of 85 and 75 during the final two days of the tournament to land second-team all-conference recognition.

“He’s been one of our more consistent players during his time here,” Clouse said. “He’s very dependable, and it was a very nice way for him to end his career at Waldorf.”

Becerra and Young garnered all-conference honors for the second straight season.

Freshman Kole Hallmark tied for 16th for the Warriors, providing a 326 following an 81 and 83 in the final two rounds. Senior Austin Heeren placed 21st with a 338, closing out the final two days with rounds of 85 and 82.

Waldorf junior Thomas O’Rourke, who did not compete during the fall stage of the conference tournament, turned in a 163 behind rounds of 78 and 85.

Bellevue University, which is receiving votes in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll, won the conference championship with 1,209 strokes. Viterbo University (1,230) claimed second while the University of Jamestown (1,266), Valley City State University (1,282), Waldorf (1,284), Dickinson State University (1,415) and Presentation College (1,539) completed the team standings.

Bellevue’s Diego Gudino captured the individual title behind an 11-over par 297, finishing two strokes ahead of teammate Juan Gomez and three strokes ahead of teammate Fernanda Arzate. The Bruins advance to the NAIA National Championships, scheduled for May 24-27 at Silvis, Illinois.

With the season coming to a close, Young, Heeren and Nick Boswell have concluded their careers with the Warriors.

“Those three have been an integral part of our program for four years,” Clouse said. “It’ll be different without having them in the system. We’ve enjoyed having all three of them with the Waldorf golf program and wish them nothing but the best.”

This year was Waldorf’s first season in the NSAA, and the cumulative conference tournament format required solid performances during both the fall and spring.

“I think it worked very well,” Clouse said. “We’re looking forward to next year.”

The Warriors return eight players for the 2016-17 campaign, including a strong core possessing both veteran leadership and experience.

“We have a really solid nucleus returning,” Clouse said. “I look for our team to be very competitive again. It’ll definitely be one of our goals to be in the hunt for the conference title.”