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Flames Sweep Major Big South Golf Honors

April 17, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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(left to right): Chase Marinell (Freshman of the Year), Robert Karlsson (Golfer of the Year), Jeff Thomas (Coach of the Year) and Preston Dembowiak (Scholar-Athlete of the Year) were honored, Sunday night, at the annual Big South Golf Championship banquet.

After capturing its first-ever No. 1 seed in this week's Big South Men's Golf Championship, Liberty has now swept all four of the major awards handed out, Sunday night, at the conference's annual awards banquet.

Junior Robert Karlsson repeated as Big South Golfer of the Year, while head coach Jeff Thomas was named Big South Coach of the Year for the second-straight season. Chase Marinell was tabbed the Big South Freshman of the Year and senior Preston Dembowiak was selected the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The Flames, currently ranked No. 31 in the country by Golfstat, become the first Big South men's golf program ever to sweep the Golfer of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year awards two-consecutive years.

In addition, Liberty has had the top freshman each of the past three years, becoming the first school to achieve this particular three-peat. The trio of players includes Karlsson (2009), Max McKay (2010) and Marinell (2011).

For the second year in a row, Karlsson was selected the league's top golfer, after leading the Big South with a career-best 71.0 stroke average.

The Swedish golfer is the second Big South player in league history to repeat as Golfer of the Year, joining current PGA Tour professional and three-time Big South Golfer of the Year Dustin Johnson of Coastal Carolina (2005, 2006 and 2007).

The junior has recorded six Top 5 finishes in 10 events and comes into this week's championship event having finished in red figures in three-straight tournaments and 10 out of his last 11 rounds of golf.
Marinell is in the midst of a banner first collegiate campaign, as the freshman ranks second in the Big South with a 72.7 stroke average.

The freshman is playing some of his best golf of the season in recent weeks, having finished in red figures during the last three events in eight of his last 12 rounds of golf. The Fort Myers, Fla., native's best finish of the season was a five-under par 211 that helped him place sixth at the Rio Pinar Invitational.

Thomas becomes the sixth head coach in league history to repeat as the conference's Coach of the Year. The seven-year skipper has guided the Flames to their best season in program history, as Liberty is averaging a 288.8 team stroke average and top three finishes in eight out of 10 team events.

Dembowiak, Liberty's lone senior in its Big South Championship line-up, became the fourth Liberty golfer in program history to be named Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The senior, who was named to the Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars team last year, is having his best season in his four-year stint on Liberty Mountain. The Summerfield, N.C., native ranks sixth in the league with a 73.3 stroke average, which is more than two strokes better than his career average coming into the 2010-11 season.

Liberty also placed three golfers on the Big South all-conference team, as Karlsson and Dembowiak were joined by McKay. McKay ranks just behind Dembowiak in the league standings with a 73.3 stroke average, giving Liberty four of the league's top seven golfers.

Joining Liberty's trio of golfers on the first half of the Big South all-conference team were Charleston Southern's Jacobo Pastor and Coastal Carolina's Sebastian Soderberg. The remaining five members of the league's 10-man all-conference team will be determined based upon how golfers finish at this week's Big South Golf Championship.

The Flames, along with the other seven squads in the eight-team field, will take to The Patriot Golf Club, tomorrow morning, for the first round of the 54-hole championship event.

The victor will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, which Coastal Carolina has claimed the last six years and 12 out of the last 14 seasons.

Liberty will tee it up along with No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 3 seed Radford, starting tomorrow morning at 9:40 a.m.

2011 Big South Conference Men's Golf Award Winners

All-Conference Team
Robert Karlsson, Jr., Liberty

Jacobo Pastor, Jr., Charleston Southern
Preston Dembowiak, Sr., Liberty
Sebastian Soderberg, So., Coastal Carolina
Max McKay, So., Liberty

All-Academic Team
David Denlinger, So., Charleston Southern
Sebastian Soderberg, So., Coastal Carolina
Scott Wheeler, Sr., Gardner-Webb
Chase Wilson, So., High Point
Preston Dembowiak, Sr., Liberty
Rob McRae, Sr., Presbyterian College

Golfer of the Year
Robert Karlsson, Jr., Liberty

Freshman of the Year
Chase Marinell, Liberty

Coach of the Year
Jeff Thomas, Liberty

Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Preston Dembowiak, Sr., Liberty