Golf Preview: Pieces are in Place for Mountain Lions
For those who believe in portents, omens or predestination, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs golf team is in for a great year. For believers, that conclusion was drawn when the Mountain Lions took seventh place at the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational on Sept. 8-9, beating 11 NCAA Division I programs in the process. The last time UCCS had been as impressive at the Falcon Invitational was the 2001-02 season when the Mountain Lions took fifth. That season, they also spent three months as the No. 1-ranked Division II team in the nation and finished the season ranked eighth nationally.
For those of us who don't believe in omens, a quick look at a roster that returns two all-Northwest Region performers, boasts three Division I transfers and is competitive from top to bottom will suffice to produce the same giddy enthusiasm. This has all the trappings of a special season for the Mountain Lions.
"Every year, I want to think Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthis is the team'" said UCCS coach Phil Trujillo. "As the season plays out, we'll be able to identify our strengths and our weaknesses and then we'll be able to start making the right moves to put ourselves in the position to finally win that regional again and get back to the national championship."
To reach that goal, you need experience. In Tyler Bishop and Eric Winder, both of whom earned all-region status a year ago, Trujillo has exactly that.
"You have to have a good, solid foundation of guys already in place," he said. "I have my guys in place that I have total confidence in and I know they understand what we're trying to accomplish."
Bishop and Winder are exactly the type of player that Trujillo seeks out and recruits. He wants guys who live on the golf course.
"In basketball, they call them gym rats," said Trujillo. "I'm looking for golf rats."
Bishop and Winder qualify.
"(Bishop) plays a ton of golf over the summer," said Trujillo. "He loves the game, understands the game and is just an all-around good golfer. He's a go-to guy.
"Winder comes from a golfing family. His dad was a head pro for a long time in Grand Junction. He grew up on golf courses. His game is built on a lot of hard work and a lot of heart."
To complement the duo, Trujillo brought in two more Division I transfers (Bishop also came from a Division I school). Todd Napikowski came to UCCS by way of New Mexico State and David Cosel transferred from Kansas.
"Their whole goal coming here is to help us get to a national championship," said Trujillo. "They have the experience. You don't play at the Division I level and not take something from it. They understand the dynamics of College golf. They understand the importance of team play. That's key for us -- team play."
Two other returners, David Hoffman and Barry Cornella, will be competing for the fifth spot on the tournament squad. Hoffman is a smooth ball striker and hard worker who is learning to avoid the big mistake. Cornella is an outstanding student who Trujillo singled out as having greatly improved his game.
Rounding out the team is a strong freshman class comprised of Brian Morfeld, Kevin Chan and Mitch Buchner. Trujillo looked at Morfeld in high school and was convinced to add him to the team after he put together some impressive performances while competing as part of UCCS' Professional Golf Management program. Chan is a local product, having taken second place at the Colorado State 5A Golf Championship as a senior at Coronado High School. Buchner was also a state qualifier at Loveland High School.
"We couldn't be happier with the freshmen," said Trujillo. "They're meshing with the guys already and they're understanding that, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœman, if I want to be a part of this, I'd better start scoring quickly.'
"They're going to bring a lot to the table down the road."
So the pieces are in place. The job now is to turn them into a team. That's a job Trujillo relishes.
"When we get them all together, then the dynamic is complete and we can build a very good golf team and give us an opportunity to try to win that national championship," Trujillo said.
And he made no reference to predestination.
|Additional News Stories|
|June 17, 2008||Trujillo Adds Two Recruits to Nationally-Ranked Golf Program||Looking to deepen a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs golf team that finished 12th nationally this past season, coach Phil Trujillo announced Tuesday the signing of two recruits. Joining the Mountain Lions for the 2008-09 season will be Riley Andrews, a transfer from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Wade Henry, a transfer from Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Arizona.|
|May 23, 2008||Napikoski Named Honorable Mention All-American||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs golfer Todd Napikoski was named NCAA Division II Ping All-American honorable mention, the Golf Coaches Association of American announced Friday.|
|May 17, 2008||UCCS Finishes National Championship in 12th Place||A promising start Saturday went sour quickly as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs finished the 2008 NCAA Division II National Championship tied for 12th place.|
|May 16, 2008||UCCS Slips to Sixth After Third Round of NCAA Golf Nationals||Tyler Bishop shot an even-par 70, but the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs slipped into a tie for sixth place after Friday's third round at the NCAA Division II National Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course.|
|May 15, 2008||Trujillo Named Northwest Region Coach of the Year||Phil Trujillo, coach of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springsâ€™ nationally-ranked golf program, was named Eaton Golf Pride Division II Northwest Region Coach of the Year, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) announced Thursday.|