Flames soar to seventh, best ever in Championship Flight
April 16, 2016 | North Augusta, S.C.
Senior Lance Brown captured sixth place out of 196 players to lead Liberty University's men's disc golf team to a best-ever seventh-place showing in the Championship Flight of the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships, which concluded Saturday at the Hippodrome Disc Golf Club in North Augusta, S.C.
Brown shot rounds of 56 on Thursday and 52 on Friday before carding a 34 in Friday's 10-hole final for a 10-under-par total of 142, earning first-team All-American status.
As a team, the Flames' foursome totaled 606 throws to finish just five shots behind fifth-place, defending champion Ferris State, and two spots higher than last year, when they earned their first automatic return bid to nationals with a top-10 finish. Augusta (580) was this year's overall team champion followed by Indian Hills (588), Western Michigan (597), and North Carolina State (600).
"It was our best overall all-across-the-board nationals tournament ever," Flames Head Coach Steve Bowman said. "We moved up two places against some pretty strong competition. If we had really played well, we could have been right there with NC State, guys we compete with a lot during the year. But overall, the guys played pretty solid."
Individually, while no other Liberty player reached the finals, Brown was complemented by consistent outings from his teammates — freshman Ryan Shumate, who shot 1-under 120 through two rounds of singles play, and graduates Daniel Ballard (1-over 122) and Devin Swartz (9-over 130).
The Flames also took sixth out of 20 teams in the men's First Flight standings, paced by top-20 individual performances (out of 78 players) from junior Jon Younce (6-over 117) and sophomore Bridger Melton (7-over 118). After winning the overall title in 2014, Liberty finished third in the Second Flight standings behind Mississippi State and Minnesota. Liberty was led by senior Hunter Bass's even-par singles play, which put him in third place individually, and junior Jesse Edgin's 5-over fifth-place finish.
"Our doubles play was pretty good today," Bowman said. "Our First Flight group was eight-under for the day today to make a big jump up, but our Second Flight was in second place going into it the last round of doubles and shot a two-under while (Minnesota) shot five under and passed them."
In the women's open competition, seniors Hannah Croke and Sarah White both reached the eight-player finals, placing fourth and seventh overall out of 19 players to pace the Lady Flames to a third-place team showing, bettering their fourth-place finish from 2014, the last time they entered a complete foursome.
Croke (15-over 154) was in second place overall entering the finals, when she carded a 42 to slip to fourth, still high enough for All-American honors.
"We're graduating three girls off the team and two to three guys, but the younger players got a lot of experience this year and I'm excited about the future," Bowman said. "To gain experience and build excitement at a national setting like this, and to be competitive at all levels, and to see that drive they have to finish out their rounds well, (the returning players) should come back quite a bit stronger."
Complete tournament results are available online.
her Lady Flames teammates