IUPUI trails James Madison at Program Challenge
PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. – Two seasons ago, IUPUI won seven times, including the Summit League title, and advanced to an NCAA Regional for just the third time in school history. That team, led by three seniors, finished the year at No. 115 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings – pretty impressive for a program that had been ranked No. 285 just two years prior.
But after failing to win a tournament and dropping to No. 256 last season, the Jaguars are determined to return to the form they showed two years ago.
A victory at the season-opening Golfweek Program Challenge would help.
IUPUI followed its first-round 3-under 285 with a second-round 280 Monday at True Blue Plantation. At 11 under, the Jaguars enter Tuesday's final round one shot behind James Madison, which has led after each of the first two rounds.
"In a sense, it's a big confidence builder because it feels like we're back a little bit," IUPUI assistant coach Colby Huffman said. "It was a tough year last year from top to bottom. We stuck with our plan . . . to bring out the best in our guys, for them to keep learning and keep improving."
Junior Jose Pablo Segurola leads the way for IUPUI at 4-under 140, five shots back of individual leaders J.T. Poston of Western Carolina and Peter Webb of Valparaiso. Segurola's second-round 3-under 69 included an eagle at the par-5 fourth hole and three birdies.
Segurola redshirted last season after switching his major from construction to mechanical engineering. That came after he played in all 14 of his team's tournaments as a sophomore.
"Last year was really tough, and being from Spain and being away from home, I wanted to play golf, and only being able to study and not play golf was really tough," Segurola said. "I'm really excited to be playing again."
With Segurola back in the lineup, along with three other players who logged between 11 and 12 starts last season, including senior Rob van de Vin, IUPUI looks to have that experience again. But it's preparation that Huffman says will determine whether the Jaguars can close out a win Tuesday.
"I'm a big believer in the John Wooden pyramid, and his thing is preparation takes care of all that," Huffman said.
Of course, James Madison is in the driver's seat despite trailing for most of the second round Monday. Trey Smith, last year's medalist here, helped the Dukes regain the lead as he went birdie-eagle-birdie on Nos. 14-16 and finished with a 5-under 67. Smith is in third place at 8 under.
James Madison also boasts the women's individual leader. Senior Ginger Mak shot 3-under 68 to vault into first place at 2 under. She leads by three shots over Campbell's Ali Prazak, a redshirt junior who is 1 over for the tournament.
The Camels have two individuals at T-3 or better. Junior Lisbeth Brooks, the first-round leader, carded a 75 Tuesday and is tied for third at 2 over with Jacksonville State's Maya Parsons.
Campbell won the women's team title last year, cruising to a 40-shot victory. Even with last year's individual medalist, Brooke Bellomy, not qualifying, the Camels (10-over 578) enter the final round with an eight-shot lead over James Madison, which leads the overall program championship by 12 shots over Jacksonville State.
"We'd love for the guys to win, we'd love for the girls to win, but we'd really like to take home the combined trophy, as well," said James Madison men's assistant Parker Reeves.