KENNESAW STATE MEN
2010-11 final ranking: 47
Coach: Jay Moseley (third year)
Top returnees: Jeff Karlsson, Matt Nagy
Top newcomers: Freshman Jimmy Beck of Columbus, Ga., freshman Austin Vick of Evans, Ga.
Projected starting 5: Jeff Karlsson (Sr.), Matt Nagy (Sr.), Ben Greene (Jr.), Jonathan Klotz (So.), Jimmy Beck (Fr.)
Key losses: Chad Wilson
Key fall tournament: Carpet Capital
2010-11 recap: In only his second year as coach, Jay Moseley and the Owls made huge strides. At the end of the 2009-10 season, the team was No. 105 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, but at the end of last year they cracked the top 50 at No. 47.
“Last year was awesome,” Moseley said. “It’s one thing to start a year with goals and aspirations, but to fulfill most of them is exciting.”
Not only did Kennesaw State earn its first trip to an NCAA regional last season, but the Owls also became the school’s first athletic team to make it to an NCAA Championship. The team won five tournaments last season, including the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. The Owls had only two finishes outside the top 5 (sixth-place finishes at the Linger Longer and Hummingbird Intercollegiate).
Player to watch: Jeff Karlsson. “I would put this guy up against anyone in the country,” Moseley said. “He is one of the most underrated players in college golf. I believe he had the second-lowest scoring average in the country to UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay. He will be a challenger for Player of the Year this season.”
2011-12 preview: With four starters returning, Kennesaw State has even bigger goals this season after the success of a year ago. With Georgia losing three of its top players to graduation (Harris English, Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford), and back-to-back NCAA champion Augusta State losing head coach Josh Gregory and its entire starting five, the door has opened for the Owls to battle Georgia Tech for top honors in the Peach State this season. “Being from the state of Georgia, I have always known how important golf is to this state,” Moseley said. “In Georgia, people know Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern (and Augusta State), but now we think we have jumped into the mix.”
The return of Jeff Karlsson, who finished last season at No. 27 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, is huge. In 10 tournaments, Karlsson posted three victories, eight top-10 finishes and a tie for 20th at the NCAA Championship. He notched titles at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate, Atlantic Sun Championship and Seminole Intercollegiate (co-medalist).
This year, Kennesaw State no longer will be considered an underdog.
“We turned some heads and got some attention last year,” Moseley said. “This year, you’ll see a very poised team that is ready to take this program to the next level.”
The Owls have a tough schedule ahead of them, but Moseley hopes that playing in bigger events not only will help his team’s ranking but also bring more recognition on a national level. For the Owls to take the next big step, they’ll have to improve upon last season’s 2-27 record against top-25 teams.
Bottom line: This year is pivotal for the Kennesaw State program. With Georgia and Augusta State appearing to have rebuilding years ahead of them, the Owls could take major strides with top recruits from the Peach State. The talent is there, and the Owls have a Player of the Year candidate in Jeff Karlsson. If Kennesaw shows it can compete with top teams week in and week out, the Owls could find themselves battling for one of the elite eight spots at Riviera Country Club next June.
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TEXAS TECH WOMEN
2010-11 final ranking: 47
Coach: JoJo Robertson (third year)
Top returnees: Gabby Dominguez, Kim Kaufman
Top newcomers: Freshman Mattie Tobey of Denver, N.C., freshman Elin Arvidsson of Sweden, sophomore Robyn Daniel (transfer from Sam Houston State)
Projected starting 5: Gabby Dominguez (Jr.), Kim Kaufman (Jr.), Beverly Mendoza (Jr.), Mattie Tobey (Fr.), and Elin Arviddsson (Fr.)
Key losses: Alex Gibson
Key fall tournament: Windy City Collegiate hosted by Northwestern
2010-11 recap: The Red Raiders won the Baylor Invitational in the spring and received a bid to NCAA regionals but failed to advance to the NCAA Championship.
“I thought we had really good moments and then times where I couldn’t believe we didn’t achieve,” coach JoJo Robertson said. “We played well in the fall but leveled off in the spring. We just didn’t play well when we needed it most.”
Texas Tech led after the first round of the Big 12 Championship, but a familiar trend of not playing well down the stretch continued as the Red Raiders finished sixth. Robertson’s squad then had high hopes of earning the program’s first appearance to the NCAA finals, but finished a disappointing 16th at the NCAA East Regional.
Player to watch: Kim Kauffman. “She has set the lowest scoring record twice at Texas Tech (and) she has lots of talent,” Robertson said. “If she believes in herself, she can be one of the top five players in the Big 12.”
2011-12 preview: Texas Tech enters the season with a solid 1-2 punch atop their lineup and a whole lot of questions after that. Juniors Gabby Dominguez and Kim Kaufman will need to be leaders for a promising group of newcomers. “Those two will be the key to our success,” Robertson said. “They had the lowest scoring average last year and I know the younger players will follow their lead.”
Robertson anticipates eight players pushing for roster spots each week. That means increased competition, but it also could mean the team’s line-up will be constantly changing. Most top teams in college golf have depth, but they also have a solid core of three or four players.
One player who may lock up a starting position is incoming freshman Mattie Tobey. “She really hasn’t competed a lot nationally but is a very strong player,” Robertson said. “She is physically gifted, and if she can adjust to the college game then she can do a lot of good things for us.” It will be crucial for Texas Tech to find a solid No. 3 player if the Red Raiders are to make that elusive first trip to the NCAA Championship.
Bottom line: Expect a year of growing pains. The team is young and has only two consistent golfers in Dominguez and Kaufmann, which won’t be quite enough. The Red Raiders have shown they can post a good round here and there, but they have struggled putting two or three together. Expect Texas Tech to make regionals, but that first trip to nationals is likely another year away.