Strong freshman crop leads promising Lobos

New Mexico's Gavin Green

New Mexico's Gavin Green

BURLINGTON, Iowa – Looking for a sleeper team this year? Well, I may have one for you.

Just a few weeks into the college golf season, I have had a few coaches tell me to keep an eye on New Mexico.

Last season did not end well for the Lobos. In fact, New Mexico has missed playing in NCAA regional competition just twice - with last year being one of those years.

"Last year definitely didn't end the way we wanted it to," said 11th-year coach Glenn Millican. "We had it going decent at the turn of the semester and played poorly down the stretch."

It's a new-look Lobos squad. Millican lost three seniors in his lineup from a year ago and has replaced them with new faces. Back in the lineup after redshirting last year is junior James Erkenbeck. The San Diego native battled the elements in the second round of the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Spirit Hollow Golf Course to post a 4-under 68 - sharing low round of the day with Arkansas' Josh Eure. Joining Erkenbeck atop the Lobos' leaderboard is sophomore John Catlin.

Catlin posted 68 in the opening round and 74 today. The teammates are tied for fourth at 2-under 142.

Two freshmen - Victor Perez of France and Gavin Green of Malaysia - also are playing for the Lobos, plus Ben Bauch, who sat out last season because of transfer rules after playing at Pacific two years ago.

"We have five guys in our lineup who were not active last year," Millican said. "We are real excited about our freshman class. I think they are very good."

The Golfweek Conference Challenge is the second start of the year for the Lobos, who opened the season with a second-place finish at the Mark Simpson Invitational. Catlin led New Mexico with a third-place finish.

With 18 holes to go, New Mexico sits in fifth place. Millican's squad finished fourth here at Spirit Hollow last year.

The Lobos certainly are no traditional sleeper in the college golf world, but after finishing the season 68th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and missing postseason play, they may be a good bounce-back pick this year.

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