Top flight men’s team ties for second, DIII squad earns national title at College Disc Golf Championships
Liberty University’s disc golf team experienced arguably its most successful College Disc Golf (CDG) National Championships in program history Wednesday through Saturday at the North Cove Social Club in Marion, N.C., despite a windy, flurry-filled final round of doubles play that affected all players.
The Flames’ Division I men’s quartet finished in a three-way tie for second place with Iowa State and Texas out of 36 schools in the final team standings with a combined score of 225, three strokes back of men’s and women’s champion Missouri (222).
Liberty was led by its top doubles tandems of junior Clayton Lewis and senior Stephen Curry as well as sophomore Triston Lambert and graduate Spencer Ellingson. They shot doubles rounds of 56, 62, 49, and 58 over the four-day tournament, moving into the tie for second after being in sole possession of fifth place going into Saturday’s final round. Lewis was the highest-placing singles player, carding a 2-under 60 to tie for 21st overall out of 216 players, followed by Curry (even-par, tied for 53rd).
“Our DI team was four strokes out of the lead going into the last round, but by hole 12, they had taken a two-stroke lead and just couldn’t’ close it out,” Flames Head Coach Steve Bowman said. “They missed easy birdie putts on the next two holes before they threw out of bounds and got a little sideways. They dropped back down to fifth before rising back to second and just couldn’t make a push at the end.”
“It was a tough loss,” he added. “It was one of those things where it could go either way. The guys got some nice accolades and played well together. They were so close to winning last year, and this year they were maybe even closer, if you can imagine that.”
Competing in a field of 71 Division II teams, Liberty’s B lineup of juniors Timothy Schmidt and Luke Pegram, graduate Matthew Alexander, and senior Andrew Sherwood slipped from a two-way tie for fourth place to a four-way tie for sixth on the final day. The Flames shot rounds of 61, 60, 61, and 55 to tie B teams from Missouri Science & Technology, Clemson, and North Carolina State with an 11-under 237 total.
“The DII team was in third place, and making a run,” Bowman said. “They shot an eagle on one of the big holes and had a chance to go for another one on (No.) 15, but made some little mistakes that cost them down the stretch.”
Schmidt hit the pole with his 611-foot tee shot, using a strong tailwind and a tee pad that was elevated 150 feet above the basket. Had the shot been a foot or two higher, it would have been a double-eagle ace. Instead, it rolled behind a tree and the Flames missed the eagle putt in terrible winds.
“The weather played into it, but we were ready for it, having practiced in some extreme conditions,” Bowman said. “We knew where we were, at 2,900 feet in the Appalachian Mountains between Boone and Asheboro, N.C., there was the potential for extreme conditions, and it went from 80 degrees on Wednesday to 37 degrees with hard flurry conditions on Saturday, but we were fine. We weren’t going to let it stop us. Snow was pouring down on us, and the wind was swirling, but we were playing well in the wind. Everyone had to play through that this time.”
Alexander and Pegram tied with Appalachian State’s Walter Dixon for second individually out of 212 contestants in singles play, completing two rounds at 4-under 111 to finish runner-up to Auburn’s Tyler Gainer, the DII individual champion who carded an 8-under 107 total.
In Division III, Liberty’s D team (26-under 254) won the overall title by three strokes over NC State’s D squad (23-under 257) and five over the Wolfpack’s E tandem (21-under 259) while the Flames’ E team placed fourth at 20-under 260 and its C squad came in fifth out of 19 four-man squads at 18-under 262.
“All three of our DIII teams were in a battle the first two days, and they were all within two or three strokes of each other, with teams from North Carolina State intermixed,” Bowman said. “In the last round, our (D) guys had a one-stroke lead and never looked back. They played strong and maintained that lead and it was cool to see them, stride for stride, pull away, make smart moves, and pick each other up.”
Returning juniors Logan Wise and Evan Olivo made up one doubles pair of Liberty’s winning D team, with newcomers Greyson Lifto, a freshman, and sophomore John Weathersby forming the other. Senior Jonah Horton, juniors Carson Cole and Sam Vilcek, and sophomore Daniel Harman comprised the E lineup and sophomore Tyler Staub, senior Hunter Ayers, junior Noah Bailey, and graduate Parker Freeman formed the C squad.
Wise finished tied for first with Western Kentucky’s T.J. Renfro at 4-under 106 through two rounds of singles play, but Renfro won the tiebreaker for the DIII individual title. Horton and Harman tied for seventh place at 2-over 112 and Lifto landed in a three-way tie for ninth out of 76 players at 3-over 113.
Liberty’s women’s tandem of senior Julia DiMartino and freshman Marissa Curry tied for 11th out of 16 teams with their doubles total of 46-over 326, with Missouri winning at 4-under 276. DiMartino (15-over 70) and Curry (23-over 78) tied for 16th and 27th, respectively, in singles play.
Complete results are available online.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by Patrick Strawn/Club Sports Director of Video & Media