Men's spring preview: America Sky Conference

Men's spring preview: America Sky Conference

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Men's spring preview: America Sky Conference

The turning point for Hartford senior Matt Smith came at the 2010 Classic at Shelter Harbor. When he first arrived in West Hartford, in 2008, he flipped the club at the bottom of the swing, costing him accuracy and consistency. He struggled to crack the lineup as a freshman. “It was a struggle out of the gate,” Hartford coach Pete Stankevich said recently.

Then Smith got stronger, physically. He developed maturity and confidence and experience with each humbling tournament. And then, on Oct. 17, 2010, he was embroiled in a playoff for the individual title at Shelter Harbor . . .

“And he didn’t miss a shot,” Stankevich remembered. “He showed himself what he could do, winning that. It just kind of snowballed from there.”

Last summer, Smith won five tournaments around the state, was runner-up at the Connecticut Amateur and shot a new course record (62) at Quinnatisset Country Club in his hometown of Thompson, Conn. When it came time to play again for the Hawks, he shot a career-low 66 in the first round of the season-opening Battle at the Tetons. Since then, he has finished in the top 8 in five of six events.

“You never want to start a career out rough,” Stankevich said, “but Matt’s career arc is what you want to have. Not all college players have that type of steady progression that he has.”

Now, entering his final semester at Hartford, Smith has shifted his focus to playing at the next level. He has many supporters on campus, not least his coach.

“He’s just one of those kids that everyone loves,” Stankevich said.

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Top of the class: Sacramento State

Best player this fall: Mason Casper, Utah Valley State

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Wildman’s Corner

The America Sky Conference features a famous, if unknown, face in Mason Casper. One of our college gurus, Asher Wildman, takes a closer look at the America Sky. Story.

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Past champions

2011: Weber State

2010: Texas-Pan American

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Conference capsules

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

• • •

Going social with Golfweek

Want to follow our college gurus on Twitter? Here are some quick links:

• You can follow blogger Asher Wildman here

• You can find Lance Ringler’s college Twitter feed here

• Check out Ryan Lavner’s witty commentary here

• And follow all of college golf on Facebook by clicking here

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