MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - With three spring tournaments already under their belts and the annual Bobcat Invitational approaching at the end of the month, the Georgia College & State University sports information department will take an in-depth look at the 2009 version of one of the most decorated programs in school history.
Now in his 12th season at the helm of the Bobcat golf squad, head coach Jimmy Wilson is coming off one of the programs best seasons in 2008, taking the NCAA Southeast Region Championship and finishing a program-high fourth at the NCAA Finals.
Wilson returns four of the five starters from that dream season a year ago, and with a No. 8 Nike Golf Division II National Rank, the Bobcats are right back to the upper echelon this season.
With no seniors on the roster, back are a pair of 2008 All-Americans in Niclas Johannson (Skanor, Sweden) and sophomore Joe Young (Cochran, Ga.). Johansson leads the team with a 71.6 stroke average and seven top-20 finishes in as many tournaments, including three-straight top-10 slots.
Young owns a 72.5 average, good for second on the team. He's played in six of the team's seven tournaments this year. Classmate Billy Shida (Berkeley Lake, Ga.) returns from last year's NCAA Finals squad, owning a 75.1 stroke average in seven starts. The 2006 Georgia PGA Boys Player of the Year has the talent to go a long way, and showed flashes of excellence down the stretch in 2008.
Junior Francisco Bide (Buenos Aires, Argentina/El Diamante (Calif.)) is the best all-around athlete on the team according to Wilson. Showing skills on the tennis and basketball courts as well as the links, it's the 2008 All-Southeast Region selection's skill in the latter and in the classroom that has Wilson pleased. Bide ranks fourth on the team with a 74.5 stroke average and two top-20s.
Newcomer Pedro C. Lima (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and sophomore Matthew Yonz (Waycross, Ga.) continue to battle for starting spots, either trading the role or both making the start as in a recent tournament, the AASU/Southbridge Pirate Invitational, where GCSU finished fifth. Lima has the team's third-best stroke average at 74.1 over six starts, while Yonz has a solid 75.7 in his four tournaments.
Sophomore Rich Crumpton (Eatonton, Ga.) redshirted a season ago, and continues to post solid scores in qualifying after playing his freshman season at ABAC. Three freshmen dot the Bobcat roster, with Bayley Craig (Eatonton, Ga.) having spent 2007-08 as a redshirt as well. Rookies Pierce McNamara (Roswell, Ga.) and Taylor Smith (Mansfield, Ga.) will both redshirt their 2008-09 campaign, figuring into the deep lineup in future seasons.
The Bobcats had a solid fall, with just one finish below third. GCSU took runner up honors at the Raines Development Group Intercollegiate Sept. 16, 2008, adding third-place spots at both the Kiawah Island Invitational and the State Farm-Laker Collegiate Invitational.
The Bobcats lowest finish came in their final fall meet, the Cougar Invitational, taking sixth. After a near four-month break, Georgia College returned to the links in mid February, taking fourth at the Matlock Collegiate, fifth in Savannah, Ga. and fourth again at the Division-I Palmetto Intercollegiate
The Bobcats are in action this week at the Southeaster Collegiate, hosted by Valdosta State University.
Visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame. The GCSU Department of Athletics sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, GCSU prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the Bobcats' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement.