JONESBORO, Ark. (9/28/18) – The Arkansas State men’s golf team continues to gain national attention for its successful start to the 2018-19 season, most recently receiving votes (33 points) in the latest Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll that was released Friday.
Already positioned at No. 15 and No. 17 in the Golfweek and Golfstat national rankings, respectively, the Red Wolves’ 33 points in the GCAA’s Bushnell Golfweek Division I Coaches Poll would rank the squad as the No. 30 team in the nation.
The highest ranked team in the Sun Belt Conference, A-State won the Golfweek Conference Challenge last week by finishing atop a 16-team field that included then-ranked No. 21 UCLA. The Red Wolves also claimed a runner-up finish at the Lone Star Invitational to open the season.
“I’m certainly proud of the way our guys have started the season and how it has been a complete team effort,” said A-State head coach Mike Hagen. “We’ve used two different lineups with one yielding a 12-stroke margin of victory and the other a runner-up finish, so we’ve had a lot of production from a number of different guys. We obviously want to build on this start, stay hungry and go out and win the next one.”
Arkansas State holds 11 all-time tournament titles under Hagen, who took over as head coach before the start of the 2015-16 season. The Red Wolves have also placed runner-up or better in six of its last eight tournaments, dating back to their 2017-18 campaign.
The Red Wolves had an individual champion each of their first two tournaments this season as well, including juniors Zan Luka Stirn and Julien Sale. Named the Sun Belt Conference Golfer of the Week on Sept. 20, Stirn claimed co-champion honors at the Lone Star Invitational. Sale collected medalist honors at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
In a recent Golfweek article by Kevin Casey titled “The Surprising Ups and Downs of the Still-Young College Season,” the Red Wolves were declared one of two Division I teams that were “winners” during the early stages of 2018-19.
The article stated that “the Red Wolves have improved mightily with Mike Hagen at the helm, and they took another step with a dominant 12-shot victory at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.” It went on to say “Arkansas State was ranked No. 194 for the 2014-15 season. The team jumped 115 spots in the following end-of-season rankings (in Hagen’s first campaign). Another jump is possible, as Arkansas State sits No. 16 (now No. 15) with a runner-up and a victory to begin the season.”
Arkansas State returns to action Oct. 6-8 at the inaugural Maridoe Intercollegiate in Carrollton, Texas. The tournament will feature 15 teams, including Arkansas State, Boise State, Coastal Carolina, Houston, Indiana, McNeese State, New Mexico, North Texas, North Florida, Rice, SMU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UT Arlington and UTSA.
Tennessee is currently ranked No. 5, Texas A&M No. 6 and SMU No. 21 in the Coaches Poll, while North Florida joins Arkansas State as teams competing in the tournament that are receiving vote