The 2013-2014 collegiate disc golf season is starting to take shape. Two weeks ago the Great Lakes Collegiate Open kicked it off. The GLCO was not only the first event of the season, but it was also the first of six Premier Qualifiers that award two Bye Seeds to Nationals held in April. The Innova SouthEast Collegiate Open is the second Premier of the year.
This weekend the SECO kept its status as the largest collegiate qualifier of the year. Twenty four teams made their way from all over the Southeast to come compete at one of disc golf's finest facilities, the International Disc Golf Center in Appling, GA. Of the 24 teams, 10 had already earned their way to Nationals, and 14 were seeking to win one of the three bids, Two Bye Seeds and one 1st Round Seed.
The tournament was contested over three rounds, two of Team Doubles and one singles. The singles competition was played on 27 holes, all 18 of the "Steady" Ed Headrick Memorial course and the front nine of the Jim Warner Memorial course. The doubles were played on the Jim Warner and W.R. Jackson Memorial courses.
After the first round, Team Doubles on Warner, Georgia Tech led by one over the defending National Champions Tennessee Tech and the Rebels from Ole Miss. The second round was singles and always proves to be very important as it accounts for 60 percent of each team's total score.
For the singles format, the three best of each team’s four rounds counts towards the team total. As the cards came in, it looked as if Tennessee Tech was pulling away as two of their players came in with clubhouse leading rounds of 13 under and a third at 12 under. But, as the teams from the farther holes started to come in, a familiar team showed they had other plans. The two-time defending SECO champion South Carolina Gamecocks carded two 17 under 79’s and an 11 under 85. Though Stephen Trello’s and Josh Day’s spectacular rounds had pushed the team to a four throw lead, it wasn’t quite enough to win the individual title. South Alabama’s Andrew Montgomery took home that trophy by one stroke with his 78. The women’s individual title went to Courtney Sumner of Georgia Regents University-Augusta.
South Carolina had played their way to a four stroke lead, the same lead they took last year going into the final round. The Gamecocks had dominated Sunday the last two years to take the win. Could they hold on again? They answered that question with a huge yes. They broke the Team Doubles course record with a 10 under 59. 60 had been shot three times, once by Mississippi State at last year’s event and also by two teams at this year’s National Team Challenge. That blazing score vaulted the Gamecocks to a seven stroke win and to the three-peat. USC remains undefeated at the IDGC. The only SECO they didn’t win was hosted at Flyboy Aviation DGC in 2010 where they took fourth.
The Gamecocks won the SECO trophy, but there were other teams just as excited as they were as they earned their way to the National Championships. The South Alabama Jaguars and Kennesaw State Owls upgraded the 1st Round Seeds they had to Bye Seeds. That meant that along with the 1st Round seed given to the tournament, their two now vacant 1st Round Seeds would also be awarded. Georgia Tech used that hot first round and steady play after that to take one. Ole Miss and East Tennessee State took the other two. This will be the first year the Mississippi Rebels will play at Nationals.
The Gamecocks win should bump them up in the Innova-Champion Collegiate Disc Golf Rankings. The next release will be out on Wednesday, October 2nd. Currently they sit in 5th, but by beating 3rd ranked Georgia and Alabama-Huntsville not playing this weekend, they’ll look to jump at least a couple spots.
It was a wonderful weekend of disc golf. The teams enjoyed not only the golf but also the side events the tournament staff puts on. There was a Dueling Rings of Fire where DGA’s Collegiate Clash program gave a brand new Mach Lite basket to the winner, a Hott Shott putting competition hosted by the local team, Georgia Regents University, and the player favorite Light Up the IDGC night round presented by NightFlightDiscGolf.com. The players also went home with awesome player packs which included a tournament stamped umbrella, two provided meals, LED lights for night golf, a mini or sticker and quite the special disc. Innova wowed the players by taking the time to hand pick Atlases to coordinate with each team’s school colors.
Needless to say, everyone had an awesome time launching their 2013-2014 season and we have a lot to look forward to this year. There are still two Premier and three Select Qualifiers this Fall.