MCC opens NJCAA golf tourney play Tuesday
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
May 28, 2001
A year ago, Meridian Community College golfers Dan Luke, Morgan Stewart, and Fredie Carmichael participated in the NJCAA Division II Men's Golf Championship at Texas A&M University.
Carmichael has used up his eligibility, but Luke and Stewart are headed back to Aggieland and this time they're taking three Eagle teammates with them as they will compete both as a team and as individuals.
MCC left for Texas Saturday morning. The tournament opens on Tuesday. The 72-hole event runs through Friday.
The first two rounds will be played at the Texas A&M University Golf Course at College Station with the third and fourth rounds to be played at Pebble Creek Country Club in Bryan, Texas. Pebble Creek is a Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
MCC qualified for the national tournament by winning the Region 23 Division II Tournament by a record 34 strokes over Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on April 24-25 at Pinebelt National Golf Course at Hattiesburg.
Along with Luke and Stewart in the four-day tournament are Eagle golfers Brandon Laird, Jamie Sullivan, and Cameron Hunt.
Luke, a graduate of Newton County High School, has been a fixture for MCC coach Lou Hart's team the past two years.
The top 15 players plus ties in the tournament will be named All-American.
In last year's tournament, Luke finished in a tie for 30th place after a good start in the final round was eventually rained out.
Luke's best competitive round this year was a 68 at Sardis. MCC's 284 that day was the Eagles' best team score for the spring season.
While at Newton County, Luke was the Class 3A state runner-up as a sophomore, the 3A state champion as a junior, and then finished fourth his senior year.
Luke was medalist nine of 11 tournaments his senior year.
In taking medalist honors in this year's Region 23 Tournament, Luke shot a 2-over-par 74-72146 to win by five strokes.
Stewart, who tied with East Mississippi Community College's Matt King for second place in the region tournament at 151, is a native of Brandon. He finished 38th in last year's NJCAA Tournament.
Stewart is ranked No. 27 individually in the Division II poll, Hart said.
Laird is a freshman from Biloxi. He shot a 155 at the regional.
Sullivan is from Columbus where he was the Class 4A state champion at New Hope High School last year. He turned in a 159 in the Region 23 Tournament.
Sullivan said getting pre-tournament knowledge from Luke and Stewart was very valuable to him.
Sullivan and EMCC's King, who will also play in the national tournament, were teammates at New Hope.
Hunt is a freshman from Eupora where he was the Class 2A state champion. He shot a 163 in the regional.
With the Region 23 Tournament being played in late April, the Eagles have had a lot of time to fine tune the trouble areas of their respective games.
MCC is ranked No. 11 in the May 17 NJCAA Division II poll despite being unbeaten by Division II teams this spring. Leading the poll is South Mountain Community College of Phoenix, Ariz., followed by Temple College of Temple, Texas, and defending national champion Indian Hills Community College of Ottumwa, Iowa.
While Hart expects big things from her team this week, she's just as proud of the kind of young men they are off the course.
At least four of the five team members will continue a hectic tournament pace when they return to Mississippi. Luke, Stewart, Laird, and Hunt have all qualified for the 2001 Mississippi Golf Association State Amateur Championship at Old Waverly Golf Club at West Point, June 7-10. Sullivan is an alternate for the 144-man field.
Hart added that three of next year's recruits have also qualified for the state am so MCC's reign in Region 23 isn't likely to end soon.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.