Spring Preview: UCCS Golfers Gear Up for Title Run
With the spring portion of the golf season starting on March 10, the UCCS men's golf team is preparing for the rest of the season and the NCAA Division II Northwest Regional Championship held in California from May 5-7.
Ending the fall portion of the golf season, UCCS was ranked 19th, and going into the upcoming tournaments, they have moved into 15th without even playing.
"The ranking creates excitement for them, but they know what really matters," said UCCS coach Phil Trujillo, who was named the Division II Regional Coach of the Year last season. "They know they have to play their best every time and get us past regionals. This team has a lot of experienced players on it, and they realize how important this spring is."
Last year, the team went into regionals as the top seed because they were the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champions. They were The RMAC champs two seasons in a row, and they are hoping to accomplish the top spot again this spring and make it to the NCAA Division II Championship held in Texas from May 14-17.
"I'm looking forward to a good spring and a national championship run," said Trujillo. "We have a very good spring schedule with tournaments in California and Phoenix. I expect them to stay focused on our goals and play their best at all times."
If you look at the men's golf roster for this season, you will notice that all of the golfers are originally from Colorado. Trujillo stated that he doesn't necessarily look for golfers from Colorado only, but with the budget, he goes for the best he can find here first.
"I believe that they understand how to manage their games better from playing in all types of weather," Trujillo commented. "When it's 40 degrees without the wind chill, and I tell them we're teeing it up today, they don't waiver; they get their clubs and ask what time to be there."
The team has played extremely well on difficult golf courses, and they are able to create a large separation between themselves and the rest of the pack. They do, however, have a disadvantage on easier courses where the separation gap is lessened because the entire field plays a better game. UCCS does practice on difficult courses which helps them with the experience of tough play.
"We recruit players that have tons of tournament experience, so they know how to play on difficult courses," explained Trujillo. "Most of these kids at this level can hit it 300 yards plus, and when the course isn't difficult it becomes a pitch and putt contest. It really changes our mindset when we encounter layouts that reward it anywhere and get away with it', but our experience will allow us to adapt and stay ahead of the competition this spring."
According to Trujillo, the guys are close, they hang out, and many of them even room with each other. They have friendships beyond the course. The team was also involved with the "Big Brother Association of El Paso County" last year.
"It was very rewarding for them and something that will remain with them for the rest of their lives," said Trujillo. "It wasn't easy getting up at 5:30 a.m. to meet their little brothers, but once there it was an amazing experience. We always want to be a part of the community in a positive way."
Going into this season, four golfers remained from last season; Tyler Bishop, a junior from Longmont, David Hoffman, a junior from Colorado Springs, Eric Winder, a senior from Grand Junction and Barry Cornella, a junior from Canon City. Adding to the upper classmen is David Cosel, a transfer from University of Kansas, and Todd Napikowski, as transfer from New Mexico State. The three freshmen are Mitch Buchner from Loveland, Kevin Chan from Colorado Springs, and Brian Morfeld from Boulder.
When asked how the freshmen are incorporated into the team, Trujillo replied,"It's a re-learning process for them. We incorporate them by playing many practice rounds with the upper classmen and showing them that collegiate golf is a different ballgame. They learn their roles on the team immediately and know they have to get better quickly."
Trujillo has a lot of faith and confidence in the team going into the latter part of this season. He believes they are ready for regionals and the upcoming championships.
"I believe that this is the best group of boys that our program has had!" Trujillo exclaimed. "We're solid in all five spots, and they can all compete with the best of them. I have nothing by confidence in them and look forward to accomplishing our goals."
|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.|