CULLMAN, ALA. – Wallace State men's golfer Eli Marty had a hard time sleeping Monday night. He can rest comfortably on Tuesday after capturing his first collegiate individual title in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) District IV Championship held at TP Country Club on Monday and Tuesday.
Marty, a sophomore from Good Hope, earned low medalist honors with an 8-under par 208, propelling Wallace State to a tournament runner-up finish and punching a ticket for the Lions to next month's NJCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship in Melbourne, Fla. It will mark Wallace State's 21st appearance at nationals.
Marty maintained a four-stroke lead over Eastern Florida State's Kerry Sweeney heading into Tuesday's final 18 and wrapped up the tournament with a 2-under 70 to secure the individual title, defeating Sweeney by seven shots.
"I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about the lead I had, especially because it was against some of the best golfers we see. Sweeney (from Eastern Florida State) is one of the best golfers I've ever faced. Once I got out on the course today, I felt good. I had control throughout the front nine and was able to play my game towards the back nine," Marty said. "It took longer than it should, but it feels great to get an individual win. More importantly, I'm excited we have a chance to play at the national tournament and see what kind of numbers we can put up."
Marty, who was a 3rd-team NJCAA All-American last season, opened the tournament Monday with a 5-under 67 and added a 71 in the second round. He closed out the tournament with a 2-under 70 on Tuesday.
"I'm extremely proud for Eli Marty. To earn your first collegiate win in a tournament with this magnitude is a tremendous accomplishment. Eli entered some unchartered territory today and didn't back down," said Wallace State NJCAA Hall of Fame golf coach Dan York. "Eli's had two great seasons at Wallace State, and we are going to miss him dearly,"
Wallace State entered Tuesday's play four strokes behind Eastern Florida State. Wallace State shot a first-round best 287 collectively to open the tournament and added a 295 in the second round.
Eastern Florida State seized the four-stroke lead with a 288 in the second round and outlasted the Lions for the title, despite Wallace State being two shots better on Tuesday.
Eastern Florida State won the title with an 10-over 874 (290-288-296).
Wallace State followed with a 12-over 876 (287-295-294).
Darton State finished third with an 890 and fellow ACCC members Faulkner State (893) and Central Alabama (894) also qualified for the national tournament.
Wallace State sophomore Sylas Elliott placed ninth with a 5-over 221 (73-71-77). The sophomore from Cullman tied five others with the best mark (71) in the second round.
Elliott is less than two weeks removed from winning the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 low medalist honors for the second consecutive season.
Charley Parvin finished with a 9-over 225 for Wallace State, Walker Gordon shot a 226 and Trey Hanvey a 228.
As the NJCAA District IV host, Wallace State welcomed teams from seven states to Cullman.
Along with Tuesday's finish, Wallace State is also less than two weeks removed from winning its third consecutive ACCC tournament title and 13th in program history.
The Lions will now shift their focus to the national championship set for May 15-20 at the Duran Golf Club in Melbourne. Wallace State is less than two years removed from a national runner-up finish, the third under York.
"We are excited about the opportunity to compete again at the national tournament. We have some work to do in the next couple of weeks," York said. "If we can improve a little, we'll have a chance down there."
For team and individual results, please visit:
Pictured right is Eli Marty
District IV All-Tournament
L-R: Kerry Sweeney (Eastern Florida) 70, 72, 73 (-1), Michael Hendrickson (Faulkner State) 74, 72, 69 (-1), Eli Marty (Wallace State) 67,71,70 (-8), Matthew Terry (Spartanburg Methodist) 73, 71, 74 (+2), Finlay Mason (Darton State) 72, 72, 73 (+1)