OC Eagles women in third, men fifth in national championship tourneys

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2014) – On a course that coach Greg Lynn said is as hard as any they’ve ever played, the Oklahoma Christian Lady Eagles, led by senior Anna Arrese Cortadellas, are right in the mix to contend for a national championship.

OC’s team score of 320 on Tuesday in the second round of the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship at The Hombre Golf Club might not look impressive, but it was the third-best score of the day. The Lady Eagles will enter the final round in third place, in the middle of a four-team race that also includes Dallas Baptist (Texas), Lee (Tenn.) and Shorter (Ga.).

Dallas Baptist has a two-round score of 625, three shots better than Shorter, six shots better than OC and seven better than defending champion Lee. The Lady Eagles will be paired with golfers from Dallas Baptist and Shorter during Wednesday’s final round and will tee off about 9 a.m.

"Three-twenty is the worst score of the year for us, but this place is so hard," Lynn said. "The pins were put in places you really couldn’t get to. I felt bad for the girls out there at times. It was just harder than golf is supposed to be. But they battled through it. It was a long day but I’m proud of the girls."

As she has so often during her stellar career, Arrese Cortadellas moved up the leaderboard during the tournament’s second round over the 5,903-yard layout. Her 3-over-par 75 over The Hombre’s Bad and Ugly courses was the second-best score of the day and moved her into second place individually at 150, three shots behind Dallas Baptist’s Erin Barrington.

Arrese Cortadellas’ round included a birdie on a hole that has vexed the Lady Eagles at the NCCAA tournament the past three years – the par-4 No. 2, which features a narrow fairway with pine trees on both sides, along with a green partially fronted by a large pond. OC’s five players went a combined 12-over on the hole on Monday.

"Absolutely a great round by Anna," Lynn said. "It’s not easy out there. The back nine, which we played first, is just – I can’t tell you. The pins are impossible to get to and are impossible to chip to. Trying to putt to them, I saw as much as 15 to 20 foot of break. We just don’t play courses like that. But it was a nice day out here – beautiful weather and good people here."

OC’s other senior, Catherine Odgers, shot a first-round 71 -the tournament’s only under-par round so far – but struggled throughout on Tuesday en route to an 84 (although she did birdie two of her last three holes). Still, with the difficulty of the course leading to high scores across the board, Odgers is tied for fifth at 155 and could earn All-America honors with a solid round Wednesday.

Junior Audrey Meisch shot an 81 and is tied for 12th in the 45-woman field. The Lady Eagles’ other two players posted better scores Tuesday than they did Monday. Sophomore Allison Sell improved by five shots while shooting an 80 and is tied for 22nd at 165, while sophomore Dana Todd is in 25th at 171 after firing an 85.

OC finished second in the NCCAA tournament two years ago and third last year. Lynn said he’ll have no special advice for his players on Wednesday.

"If you haven’t brought it with you, you’re not going to find it out there," he said. "Based on our practice and all the time we’ve put in, you just go out there and trust it. I just tell the girls to go out and enjoy it. It’s a beautiful day. Go out and have a good time. What happens, happens. You just can’t try harder. It doesn’t work in golf." 

OC men 10 shots behind leader on final day

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 28, 2014) – For the first time in a long time, Oklahoma Christian could be on the outside looking in when it comes to contending for the team title on the final day of a national tournament.

OC struggled again on Tuesday in the second round of the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship, being played on The Hombre Golf Club’s Bad and Ugly courses. The Eagles posted a team score of 301, giving them a two-day total of 599.

That puts OC only on the fringe of the national-title chase entering Wednesday’s final round. The Eagles are 10 shots behind the leader, Colorado Christian, but are in fifth place in the 12-team field. Defending champion Lee (Tenn.) trails Colorado Christian by two shots, with Dallas Baptist (Texas) another five shots back and Oklahoma Wesleyan in fourth, one shot ahead of OC.

It’s a frustrating scenario for the Eagles, who have finished among the top four teams at a national tournament (either NAIA or NCCAA) during each of the past 15 academic years. OC rallied from six shots down in the final round to win the NCCAA Central Region tournament earlier this fall, but coming back this time figures to be a whole lot tougher.

"We’ll go out there tomorrow and hopefully have our best round of the tournament," Lynn said. "Shoot a low one and see what happens. This is a crazy golf course and there’s supposed to be a little weather tomorrow as well, with some chances of rain. Maybe we’ll get some wind. Anything is possible."

If nothing else, the Eagles were consistent on Tuesday. Three OC players – senior Trey Payne, senior Jared Consoli and freshman Zac Schaefer – all finished with 4-over-par 76s on the 6,497-yard layout. Freshman Asher Owen was one shot behind them with a 77.

"We had five guys pretty much play identical," Lynn said. "We got off to a rough start on the second hole … with two doubles and three bogeys right out of the gate. We came back on the fourth hole and made up for some of it … but, again, just too many big numbers. I don’t know what we shot on the front nine, but it had to be astronomical (compared) to how we’ve been playing and to what our expectations are, certainly."

Junior Sam Johnston appeared headed for a similar fate as his teammates, but birdies on No. 16 and No. 17 put him at 73 and vaulted him into a tie for ninth in the 66-man field at 147.

Despite his 76, Payne will enter the final round tied for fourth at 145, four shots behind individual leader David Ryan of Oklahoma Wesleyan.

"He’s worked so hard on his game," Lynn said of Payne. "He came back from this summer really prepared. I hope he can put together a good round tomorrow. I’d like to see that from him."

One thing that gave Lynn a bit of hope was the way the Eagles finished their round, with the five players shooting 6-under over the final three holes.

"I know that the guys are in good spirits despite struggling," he said. "This golf course is just really, really hard. I walked 18 holes with Zac today and he hardly missed any shots and just paid the absolute penalty for any little miss he had. That’s kind of what this golf course does. They’ll keep their heads up. They’re still grinding and they’ll try to get the most out of their games they can tomorrow."

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Ken MacLeod

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