Crowning an Individual National Champion
The players filled the courses at the Hippodrome complex Saturday with excitement and anticipation for individual competition. Team play is not only about how they can function as a unit, but also the individual pieces of the puzzle. Now, instead of all playing together, the teams were split up and spread out over the two courses. Singles play leaves the door wide open for the leaders to slip, and the chasers to become the chased.
The women's division started off on the featured course at Hippo, Old Glory. Hanging baskets, elevated pins, roll-away greens and even a basket burried in the ground provide a difficult challenge for any player. 16 ladies were in contension for the title of national champion, but it seemed to be a one-woman show from the start. Colleen Thompson, representing Illinois State University opened up the day with a five stroke lead after shooting an incredible 6 under par. After a short break for lunch, it was on to the Hogback course. Colleen cooled off a bit, allowing Krystin Nowicki of Mississippi State a chance to creep back into the picture. She did so by shooting the hot round of 62, 1 over par, on a very difficult course. After the second round, the cut was made and the stage was set for the top half of the field to challenge thirteen holes of the Old Glory course once again. Colleen found her groove in the finals. Throwing safe, smooth tee shots and making putts from all over, she had the best round in the finals by six strokes, ultimately winning the title by an astounding nine stroke margin.
On the men's side, Alabama-Huntsville led the team competition, but that would quickly change. The Championship flight split into two fields of 80 players, filling both the Moody Woods and Headrick Hills courses. A gentle, yet steady breeze and warm temperatures added to the stress of playing for such a coveted prize, but the players responded in impressive fashion. After two rounds, all the players had played both courses, and Mike Sale of California-Santa Barbera found himself tied with Michael Hoffman, representing Tennessee Tech at -10 on the day. The cut line was set at 118 (-2) and 29 players were within eight strokes of the lead and headed to the finals. The modified layout of the most difficult track at the Hippodrome complex, Old Glory Black was what lied ahead of the privelaged few. Several players heated up during the final round of 13 holes, including 1004 rated Tyler Liebman from Colorado State, Brett Wishon of Kennesaw State, and Brennan Billow from Ferris State. Hoffman began to slip, while Mike Sale still held on to the lead. Up one stroke, and going into the last hole, Sale stepped up to the demanding 18th hole of the Old Glory course, nicknamed "Upper Pond." About 150 feet in front of the tee, a daunting mando causes the players to throw right, testing the finesse required to land in front of a pin guarded by water long and OB left. Sale released a shot that barely missed the mandatory, and was forced to re-tee. At this point, it was unclear who would take the title. Scorecards were rushed to the scoring area as the sun fell over the horizon, and scores were tallied into the night. When the dust had cleared, Kennesaw State's Brett Wishon had won by one stroke. An incredible end to a very exciting day of collegiate disc golf. Tennessee Tech now leads in the team competition by one stroke over defending champ, Colorado State.
Tomorrow is the finals of the team competition, and once again, Disc Golf Planet TV will be covering all the action. Congratulations to our individual champions, and for a complete list of all the scores, both team and individual, visit PDGA.com. Check back in tomorrow to find out who will be the 2013 National Collegiate Disc Golf Champions!