HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State's eighth-ranked golf team captured its second consecutive Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 championship and 12th overall on Tuesday, outlasting Faulkner State in a one-hole playoff at Point Mallard.
Wallace State trailed Faulkner State by six strokes heading into Tuesday's final round, but the Lions scratched and clawed over the final 18 holes, notching things up with a 2-under 286. Both teams went into the playoff with a 14-over 878.
The Lions, last season's NJCAA Division I national runner-up, were one shot better than the Sun Chiefs during sudden death with three Wallace State players shooting par on the 10th hole.
"This is very exciting. Winning two conference championships in a row is very special. We worked hard the last two days, especially after putting ourselves behind the 8-ball in the first round with a 305. We knew if we shot par the rest of the way we could give ourselves a chance. Some of us didn't get off to great starts, but we kept it together for a big finish," said Wallace State sophomore Cooper Brown, who gave an emphatic fist pump as he helped ice the championship for the Lions.
Wallace State freshman Sylas Elliott was the tournament's low medalist, earning the Cullman High graduate a spot on the NJCAA All-Region 22 team. He finished with a 6-under 210, carding a 71-70-69.
"Even though the conditions weren't the best, I felt like I hit the ball good both days. The grounds crew did a great job of keeping the course as playable as possible. I just focused on one shot at a time and was fortunate enough to have a strong tournament," Elliott said. "This is such a confidence-booster for the team. We can take this momentum into the district tournament. We are excited to go there and have some fun. Everyone is putting in a lot of effort and working hard mentally. We all are shooting for a national championship. That's our ultimate goal."
Wallace State golf, like most spring teams, has been forced to contend with inclement weather all season. The last two days were no exception.
The Lions played 36 holes on Monday through a constant rain, finishing with a 305 after the first 18 holes and with a 287 in the second round. Wallace State cut its 12-shot deficit in half by the end of Monday's rounds.
Wallace State rallied on Tuesday to earn another title.
"We dug ourselves a hole after the first 18 holes, so to come back and win in the playoff is nice. This team has a lot of confidence after winning two tournaments in a row. We'll need to carry this over into the district tournament in a couple of weeks. We'll have our work cut out for us," said Wallace State coach Dan York, a NJCAA Hall of Famer who's in his 28th season with the program.
Brown joined Elliott on the NJCAA All-Region team after finishing with a 1-over 217. Brown, the defending individual NJCAA Division I national champion low medalist, opened the tournament with a 76 and 73 respectively on Monday and shot a 4-under 68 in the final round.
Walker Gordon finished with a 226 for Wallace State, Will McDowell a 228 and Eli Marty a 233.
Faulkner State shot a 293-293-292 over 54 holes. Central Alabama finished third.
Wallace State, which also won the Glen Lakes Spring Invitational on March 31, will now prepare for the NJCAA District 4 tournament, scheduled for April 24-26 in Alexander City. The top seven qualifying teams advance to the national tournament in May.
"We can't be satisfied with winning a conference championship. We want to add a couple of more tournament victories," Brown said.
ACCC Runner-up - Faulkner State
Tournament Medalist - Sylas Elliott - Wallace State
2015 All-Region 22 Golf Team
Pictured left to right: Sylas Elliott and Cooper Brown (Wallace State), Scott Bryan (Central Alabama), and TJ Shields and Zachary Dittmer (Faulkner State)
2015 ACCC Coach of the Year - Dan York - Wallace State