Lynn hopes for return trip to D2 championships
If there’s one thing Lynn head coach Andrew Danna knows, it’s that Daniel Young is not walking through the proverbial door.
Young finished his Lynn career as a three-time All-America, setting five school records along the way. He, along with two other seniors, helped lead Lynn to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Division II National Championship last year.
“Daniel Young, I’d say, is the best player in our school’s history of men’s golf. He holds all the records, and I was very happy to be able to coach him in his final season,” Danna said.
But as Young’s career wrapped up, Danna’s time at Lynn was just beginning. Danna became the third coach to take the reins at Lynn in its history after coaching for two years at Georgia Southwestern State.
Now, with only two returning contributors from the National Championship, Danna hopes his young team can pick up where Young and his fellow seniors left off. The team travels to Sunriver, Ore., for the Golfweek Division II Fall Invitational Monday and Tuesday.
“My message to freshmen that enter the program is you’ve got to step up,” Danna said. “The idea is to get better every year, and if you’re doing that, by the end you’re playing at a high level. Some guys come in at an early age playing at a high level. We look to them, and they become leaders and then they have to step up.”
A prime example of an underclassmen leader is sophomore Jose Andres Miranda.
The Ecuador native showed his grit as a freshman, winning matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the National Championship and splitting his final match of the season.
“It was a big experience for me. I have played a couple of tournaments back home in South America that were match play tournaments to help with those matches [at the National Championship],” Miranda said. “In match play, you don’t have anything to lose. It helps that it’s hole-to-hole and you can just focus on that hole. It’s easier for me to play like that.”
Getting back to a match-play scenario will be a feat for the Fighting Knights. But if they do, it will be as a part of the formula Danna implemented in his first season.
“I was coming in to a historic program for Division II. … I inherited a great team,” Danna said. “My first year, it took some time to get to know the guys … as the weeks went on, I put a system in place to focus on the process and not necessarily the end result.
“We focus on one tournament at a time, and I put a big emphasis on practice. I think my guys appreciate it because I hold them accountable for their practice routines and how they prepare for tournaments. By the time we got to the National Championship, our routine was already so engrained that we could kind of just play golf. That’s what carried us all the way through.”
Danna hopes that the team’s run to the final match of the Division II season established a basis for years to come.
“Every time they were tested with adversity throughout the year, they are able to come through,” Danna said. “Our returners and the new guys coming to the team now understand that’s how we do things. If we implement that with our routine, we’ll see how far we can go.”
Lynn may feature some fresh faces, but the departing stars set a standard for the up-and-coming golfers.
“One of our younger players expressed to me that he wanted to play well and, ‘break Danny’s records,’” Danna said. “It made me happy to know that he was aspiring to be better than the players that are older than him and have come before him.”