UCCS Pulls Off Improbable Win at Division I Falcon Invitational

By Doug Fitzgerald published September 20, 2010

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Some things just don't happen in sports. Ray Lewis doesn't get pancake blocked by a kicker. Five-foot-9 Nate Robinson doesn't win jump balls against Yao Ming. And NCAA Division II golf programs absolutely don't win Division I tournaments.

Maybe Ray Lewis better keep an eye out for kickers.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs pulled off the improbable Monday, outlasting 17 NCAA Division I schools to win the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational at the Eisenhower Golf Club's Blue Course.

The Mountain Lions shot an even-par 288 Monday, which tied Weber State for the best round of the day. That came on the heels of two inspired rounds on Sunday, including an 8-under par first round that set the bar higher than the rest of the field could jump.

"This never happens," said UCCS senior Riley Andrews. "D-II schools very rarely take advantage of a good first day and keep it going against D-I schools. For us to come in here and shoot even par today was huge."

These weren't just any Division I programs, either. Not only did the Mountain Lions beat every Colorado-based D-I (Colorado, Colorado State, Air Force, Denver and Northern Colorado), they also knocked off No. 16-ranked San Diego and No. 19 UNLV.

"Talent-wise, there's absolutely zero difference from our team compared to a D-I school; the results show that," said Andrews. "Obviously, D-I schools have more resources so they can travel more and get better equipment.

"But that doesn't really matter to us; we're here to win."

And they did exactly that. Decisively.

UCCS, at 3-under par 861 for the tournament, was the only team below par. San Diego took second at 869, followed by Colorado State and New Mexico State, each of which scored 871. UNLV (877), Wyoming (878), Weber State (879), Air Force (882), Colorado (886) and Utah State (893) rounded out the top 10.

For some of the Mountain Lions, the win came on short sleep. After grabbing the lead after Sunday's two rounds, some found it difficult to relax.

"Last night, we had a team meeting," said Andrews. "(Chris Shoop) and I were talking later on, about 11, just trying to figure out a way to calm down and get some sleep. We knew how big this is."

Whatever they decided, it worked. Spencer Biersdorff shot a 2-under par 70 to lead UCCS Monday. Andrews and Brian Morfeld each were at even par, while Shoop was at 74. Michael Tilghman's solid 75 was discarded since, under NCAA scoring, only the four best scores are counted toward the team score.

For the tournament, Shoop led the Mountain Lions and was tied for third overall with a 3-under par 213. Morfeld and Andrews were each tied for seventh at 215, while Biersdorff was tied for 15th at 218. While Tilghman's 228 was fifth among UCCS golfers, it was still better than 33 of his Division I rivals.

"This team, they're legit," said UCCS coach Phil Trujillo. "I look forward to seeing how the season plays out."

Then Trujillo, who will never be accused of being overly sentimental, was asked if he was proud of his team.

"Thrilled ..." he responded as his voice began to waver. Overcome, he paused for a moment to collect himself. It was a wholly uncharacteristic show of emotion brought about by a wholly improbable event.

"You know, you work so hard," he added after a few seconds. "They work hard, they show up every day. It's almost like two-a-days for them with the short-game practice and then they go to practice. We don't have our own course, so they're driving up and down the highway. They lose an hour a day driving up and down the highway when they could be studying.

"I hope they know, and I'm sure they do, what this means and how to carry forward with it the rest of the season."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brian MorfeldBrian Morfeld
Brian MorfeldBrian Morfeld
Brian MorfeldBrian Morfeld
Brian MorfeldBrian Morfeld
Riley AndrewsRiley Andrews
Riley AndrewsRiley Andrews
Riley AndrewsRiley Andrews
Chris ShoopChris Shoop
Chris ShoopChris Shoop
Chris ShoopChris Shoop
Michael TilghmanMichael TilghmanSo
Michael TilghmanMichael TilghmanFr
Michael TilghmanMichael TilghmanSr
Michael TilghmanMichael TilghmanJr
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