Oklahoma Christian moves up to third in Heartland Championship

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HORSESHOE BAY, Texas (April 19, 2016) – With a pair of top-10 individual finishers in Sam Johnston and Alejandro Valenzuela, Oklahoma Christian moved up a spot on the final day of the Heartland Conference Championship at Apple Rock Golf Course.

OC’s final-round team score of 295 put the Eagles at 601 in the rain-shortened tournament, 14 shots behind Dallas Baptist (Texas) and 13 behind St. Mary’s (Texas).

The Eagles’ third-place team finish should secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II West-South Central Super Regional, to be played May 2-4 at University Golf Course at Las Cruces, N.M. The qualifiers for that tournament will be announced on Friday. This is OC’s first season of eligibility for the NCAA postseason.

Impressively, the Eagles leapfrogged St. Edward’s (Texas) for third place in the Heartland tournament, despite having no margin for error in their lineup, as one OC player, Manuel Hernandez, did not record a score. That meant the Eagles didn’t have the luxury of throwing out a high individual score.

Johnston and Valenzuela both tied for sixth place at 147 (3-over-par) in the 50-man field.

Johnston, a senior from San Diego, shot an even-par 72 on the 6,968-yard Apple Rock layout, while Valenzuela, a freshman from Cochabamba, Bolivia, closed with a 76.

Just outside the top 10, in 12th place, was OC sophomore Zac Schaefer, who also shot a 72 and finished at 149. Freshman Juan Pallach posted the biggest round-to-round improvement of all the Eagles, shooting a 75 – eight shots better than in the opening round – and tied for 32nd at 158.

Johnston, Valenzuela and Schaefer each recorded three birdies on Tuesday, while Pallach had two.

Scott Brown of Lubbock Christian (Texas) and Garrett Fey of Dallas Baptist tied for individual top honors at 2-under 142, with Fey winning a one-hole playoff.

Rogers State closed its 2015-16 season at the Heartland Conference Championship Tuesday.

The Hillcats got their top finish from junior Eric Moore as he dropped seven shots off his mark from the opening round by firing an even-par round of 72. Patrick Bart added a 77 including an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole.

Alex Marsh bounced back from a tough opening round by shaving 10 strokes off his score to card a 2-over-par 74 in round two. Owen Bates shot 85.

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Ken MacLeod

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