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Thomas Named VCGCA Coach of the Year

June 28, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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After leading the Flames to their first-ever Big South Men's Golf Championship, Jeff Thomas has been named to the 2011 Coach of the Year by the Virginia State Golf Coaches Association (VSGCA).

In addition to Thomas' honor, senior Preston Dembowiak and junior Robert Karlsson were two of the five student-athletes named to the VSGCA first-team all-state squad.

Thomas guided the Flames to their best season in program history. Liberty was ranked as high as No. 27 (Golfstat) in the country and finished the year ranked No. 33 by Golfweek and No. 35 by Golfstat. Additionally, Liberty finished Top 3 in nine out of 12 teams events.

Liberty fired an eight-under par 856 at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety Six, S.C., to win the Big South Men's Golf Championship by 31 strokes in April, the second largest margin of victory in the event's history.

The win gave Liberty the automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, which marked the Flames third NCAA Regional birth in program history. The Flames traveled to Tucson, Ariz., where they were the No. 5 seed at the NCAA Arizona Regional.

Both Dembowiak and Karlsson earned Big South first-team all-conference honors prior to the start of the Big South Men's Golf Championship. Karlsson repeated as Big South Golfer of the Year, while Dembowiak would go on to capture his first collegiate title by firing a seven-under par 209 to claim individual medalist honors.

Karlsson led all Big South golfers this year and became the first player in program history to post a season stroke average below 72.0, as he finished the season with a 71.28 stroke average. Karlsson finished the year ranked No. 53 by Golfweek and No. 100 by Golfstat after posting Top 5 finishes in seven out of 12 events.

Dembowiak capped off his career at Liberty with the best season during his four years with the program. The senior ranked No. 3 in the Big South with a 72.82 stroke average, a mark that was more than two strokes lower than his career stroke average coming into the season. Dembowiak finished the year ranked No. 180 by Golfweek and No. 210 by Golfstat.

Virginia State Golf Coaches Association
2011 All-State Teams
(Players listed alphabetically by school)

First Team
Preston Dembowiak (Liberty/Sr.)
Robert Karlsson (Liberty/Jr.)

Will Collins (Virginia/Sr.)
Ben Kohles (Virginia/Jr.)
Marshall Bailey (Virginia Tech/Sr.)

Second Team
Sam Beach (Richmond/Sr.)
Michael Shrader (Richmond/Sr.)
Amory Davis (Virginia/Sr.)
Ben Rusch (Virginia/Fr.)
Blake Redmond (Virginia Tech/Jr.)