The Oglethorpe men's golf team is in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, this week, getting set for their 18th overall appearance at the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship. The event will take place Tuesday through Friday and will be co-hosted by Oglethorpe and the Central Florida Sports Commission at Mission Inn Resort and Club. It will represent the 17th consecutive appearance for the Stormy Petrels at the prestigious event.
Sophomores Patrick Mills, Kyle Shealy and Jacob Arnett will join freshman Kenny Park and junior Jeffrey Alexander to form the Oglethorpe squad for the week. Mills, Shealy and Arnett are all coming off All-SAA First Team honors on the season, with Arnett earning the individual medal at the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational in March. Park and Alexander have both earned a great deal of experience this season, with each earning significant playing time at big tournaments over the course of the year.
The Petrels will enter the tournament sporting the No. 7 ranking in the final Bushnell Golfweek Division III Coaches Poll of the regular season. They'll face off against a number of other teams from the poll, including top-ranked Huntingdon, who sat atop the rankings for eight straight weeks and garnered 13 of a possible 14 first-place votes. The Petrels will also face against No. 2 Texas-Tyler, No. 3 Emory, No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor, No. 5 Methodist, No. 6 LaGrange, No. 8 Rhodes, No. 9 Greensboro, No. 10 Wittenberg, No. 11 Concordia (Texas), No. 12 St. John's (Minnesota), defending champions No. 13 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 14 Washington and Lee, No. 15 Illinois Wesleyan, No. 17 Guilford, No. 18 Carnegie Mellon and No. 23 Christopher Newport, as well as a host of automatic qualifiers from outside the top 25.
The Petrels finished eighth at the 2016 event, held at Midvale Country Club and the Country Club of Mendon, both in the Rochester, New York, area. It was their 13th top 10 finish at an NCAA Division III Championship, with all of those results coming in the last 15 years. Shealy, Mills and Arnett all return from that squad. They finished tied for 16th, tied for 27th and tied for 46th at the 2016 event, respectively.
Oglethorpe will get their week started bright and early on Tuesday morning, as they tee off at 8:20 a.m. from the first hole of Mission Inn's championship El Campeon course.
This marks the third time that Oglethorpe, the Central Florida Sports Commission and Mission Inn have combined to co-host the NCAA Division III Championship. The other two came in 2005 and 2012, the year that Oglethorpe won the second of their two national titles.