Wabash, IN – Led by the senior trio of Nick McCarthy, Jeff Meade, and Casey Gilligan, the Transylvania men's golf team captured the 2016 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men's Golf Championship at the Honeywell Golf Course on Sunday.
McCarthy turned in a Round Four score of a six-over par 77 after also shooting a 77 in Round Three on Saturday, good for a four-round score of 296 to lead his five-man Pioneers squad. Meade shot a 151 over the final two rounds to finish with a cumulative score of 298 over the two week conference tournament. Gilligan posted the best score of any Pioneer over the final weekend with a Round Four two-over 73 to card a 149 over the last two rounds, good for a four-round score of 302.
Transylvania posted a team score of 1,210 to finish 11 strokes ahead of second-place Mt. St. Joseph's score of 1,221.
It's the 10th straight time the Pioneers have finished the annual four-round tournament on top, further solidifying their status as one of the great golf dynasties of the HCAC.
"I'm really proud of this group of guys that found a way to pull out this historic HCAC Championship," said Transylvania Men's Golf Head Coach Brian Lane. "We did a super job of fighting off a hard-charging field."
The Pioneers began the fourth and final round 18 strokes ahead of their nearest challenger in the Mt. St. Joseph Lions. While the second place Lions closed down the gap on the back nine, the Pioneers quintet performed consistently as they have for the entirety of the tournament, as all five of the Round Four Pioneer participants combined for a final round score of 307 after shooting a Round Three 306.
"We showed a tremendous amount of poise when we had a few bad holes," added Lane on the challenges of the pressure-packed weekend. "Our guys really had to think their way around the golf course the last two days, and especially in the greens where there were some very difficult pin locations."
Zach Treilobs and Blake Young did their part to push the Pioneers on to the cumulative victory. Treilobs shot a 78 in Round Three followed by an 81 on Sunday. Young rounded out the performance with a 171 over the final two rounds.
The Pioneers weathered a full array of elements, whether it was the blustery and windy Round Three conditions, or the looming legacy that past Pioneers golfers had laid before them and the pressure that came with aiming for the 10th straight conference title.
But Lane said the pursuit of a number wasn't the prevailing factor in their weekend drive. "We did not talk about trying to win to advance to our 10th straight trip to the NCAA golf championship, but everyone knew the significance of winning this year."
It was a marvelous tournament for the senior Gilligan, who shot the best average on par three courses throughout the final two rounds, averaging a 2.88 score per par-three hole. McCarthy and Treilobs shot the best of any Pioneer on the par-four courses, averaging a 4.23 score per hole.
Meade and Gilligan rode a consistent weekend to help propel the Pioneers to their 2016 HCAC title. Meade led the entire field in total pars for rounds three and four with 28 total, while Gilligan collected 26.
McCarthy finished just one stroke behind Defiance's Alex Miday to finish second on the leaderboard for the four-round tournament, capping off an extraordinary four-year run through the HCAC golfing circuit.
Meade's four-round total of 296 placed him third for the tournament, while Gilligan finished in the top-six with his four round 302 score.
The day was also marked an outstanding achievement for Lane, who sealed up his 10th straight HCAC Men's Golf Coach of the Year award in guiding his team to their 10th conference championship in 10 tries.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't take a short trip down memory lane over the last few holes thinking about the great student-athletes we have had here at Transylvania that made this 10th straight championship possible," said Lane. "I heard from a lot of alums as this final weekend approached."
Honored for their strong performances over the tournament, Gilligan, Meade and McCarthy were each named to the All-HCAC team. Meade was also named to the HCAC All-Sportsmanship team.
By winning the team title in the HCAC, the Pioneers have also clinched an automatic bid into the NCAA Men's Golf Tournament for the 10th consecutive time. Now, three years removed from their most recent national runner-up finish, the Pioneers will aim for a return to glory on the grandest stage of Division III Golf. The D-III Championships commence in nine days at the Midvale Country Club and Mendon Golf Club in Rochester, New York. The Pioneers will head to upstate New York as they pursue the first national championship in program history.
For the latest on Transylvania Men's Golf at the NCAA Championships, follow their official twitter @TransyGolf