JONESBORO, Ark. (10/3/18) – Holding a 28-1 head-to-head record and ranked among the top 30 teams in the nation according to Golfweek (No. 15), Golfstat (No. 17) and the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll (No. 30), the Arkansas State men’s golf team is set to face its most challenging field of the young season when it travels to Carrollton, Texas, this weekend to compete in the Maridoe Intercollegiate.
The Red Wolves will use a lineup featuring three players ranked among the top 75 in the country by both Golfweek and Golfstat when it tees off Saturday against the likes of No. 5 Tennessee, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 21 SMU and North Florida, which is receiving votes in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll along with A-State.
Fresh off a championship performance in his Arkansas State debut at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, junior Julien Sale is currently listed as the NCAA’s No. 5-and-No. 12 ranked player in Division I by Golfstat and Golfweek, respectively. Sale and three of his teammates, including freshman Luka Naglic, junior Zan Luka Stirn and senior Joel Wendin, all finished the highly-respected tournament among the top-15 individuals to lead A-State to the team title.
A-State’s first-place finish, the 11th all-time under head coach Mike Hagen, came following a runner-up performance at the Lone Star Invitational to open the season. Through the Red Wolves’ first two tournaments, they hold an 8-1 record against teams ranked among the top 100 in the nation by Golfweek.
Stirn and Wendin join Sale as A-State players currently ranked among the top 75 in the nation, helping put the Red Wolves in the early conversation as one of the Sun Belt Conference front-runners. Senior Jakub Bares and junior Matthew Cole have also seen action this year, but the mixed lineups have combined to help the Red Wolves compile 283.25 scoring average and -4.75 score versus par that are both tops in the league.
Finishing among the top four players in each of A-State’s first two tournaments, Wendin is ranked No. 42 by Golfstat and No. 57 by Golfweek. He holds a 70.3 scoring average that is second on the team behind only Sale’s 68.0, which is also the best in the Sun Belt.
Stirn was named this season’s first Sun Belt Conference Golfer of the Week after finishing as co-champion at the Lone Star Invitational and in a tie for 13th place at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Ranked No. 66 by Golfstat and No. 75 by Golfweek, Stirn has compiled a 70.5 scoring average that ranks fourth in A-State’s conference.
Sale, Stirn and Wendin have combined to post a 14-8-4 record against players ranked among the top 100 in the nation by Golfweek. The trio also has a 31-2 record versus players ranked 51-100 by Golfstat and will be in the Red Wolves’ lineup at the Maridoe Intercollegiate along with Bares and Naglic.
Naglic played in each of A-State’s first two outings and actually posted the squad’s lowest single-round score of the season with a 66 for the second 18 holes of the Golfweek Conference Challenge, where he finished a season-best tied for fifth place among 85 players. He has compiled a 72.5 scoring average that ranks fourth and ninth on the team and in the Sun Belt, respectively.
Bares also played in both tournaments so far this fall, shooting a combined 150 for all four rounds and collecting his best finish at the Lone Star Invitational as he placed tied for 30th. He recorded a low round of 70 for the opening 18 holes at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
The inaugural Maridoe Intercollegiate will be played Oct. 6-8 at the Maridoe Golf Club. The tournament will feature 15 teams, including Arkansas State, Boise State, Coastal Carolina, Houston, Indiana, McNeese State, New Mexico, host-school North Texas, North Florida, Rice, SMU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UT Arlington and UTSA.