By TYLER DUKE
After a fall season that included two victories and five top five finishes, Head Coach Jay Moseley and the Kennesaw State men’s golf team are no longer overlooked as they chase a national title this spring.
The Owls were honored for their play last semester when they were ranked 24th in the nation by the Golf Coaches Association of America poll. It’s the first time the men’s golf team has ever been in the top 25 of the coaches’ poll since joining Division I. After coming up shy in the NCAA Championships last year, the Owls are poised to make it happen in 2015.
“It’s meaningful to me and our program to have the respect from other coaches, and for us to receive votes in that poll means a lot,” said Moseley. “It means that we’ve earned it, and we’ve played our way into the respect of other programs and other teams and coaches in the country, and we’re very pleased with that.”
Now in his sixth season as the head coach at KSU, Moseley has steadily built a program that can now be considered as one of the elites in the nation. His team has now claimed four consecutive NCAA regional appearances and two appearances in the NCAA Championships.
Moseley can be credited with much of the success the program has been able to build on. He was once an All-SEC golfer at Auburn, and he has transformed that talent to being able to teach and train world-class golfers at Kennesaw State.
“You can almost attribute all the success to what he’s done for the program – especially me individually,” said senior golfer Jimmy Beck. “He’s taken my game to where it is now. I can honestly say that without his knowledge and his experience that I wouldn’t be where I am now, and this team owes a lot to him.”
Beck has been a part of the team’s individual success as much as anyone. He’s fourth all time at Kennesaw State in the Division I era with a 73.23 scoring average. He contributed the individual competitiveness of the team this year to the overall success.
“Being a part of a team, especially a part of a team who challenges you and makes you competitive always helps,” said Beck.
As the Kennesaw State men’s golf program continues to build, the image of it from the outside looking in also does. The Owls have now shown themselves to be one of the more attractive programs in the nation due to the ability to develop players.
“I feel like our program is in a healthy position right now in terms of attracting a better brand of player, and our performance has proven that we can develop guys – that guys can come here and work hard and get better and improve on things that we feel like are important,” said Moseley. “It’s always great to have your program sort of sell itself.”
With the latest voting from the coaches’ poll, the Owls are now ranked in the three major polls for NCAA Division I golf. That recognition serves a huge purpose for recruiting and what it can do for junior golfers all across the world when they look at potential schools to attend.
“It’s paramount,” said Moseley. “I would say probably the number one factor of recruits being attracted to the program is the success of the team.”
The team has already had two highly coveted recruits commit to the team for next season that represents the ability of Kennesaw State’s recruiting. The first is Jake Fendt – a homegrown player out of Lambert High School who has had a huge amount of success around the Southeast as a junior golfer. The second is Pablo Rodriguez-Tabernero Torres – one of the premier junior golfers in Spain. He will become the fifth player on the KSU roster from outside of the U.S.
They will be joining a team that hasn’t lacked in individual accomplishments. Beck and sophomore Teremoana Beaucousin were voted in the top 15 in the nation in the fall Palmer Cup rankings by the GCAA in November. The Georgia State Golf Association honored senior Kelby Burton as the 2014 Co-Men’s Player of the Year – an honor that Beck received in 2013. Freshman Fredrik Nilehn had an outstanding first semester when he was placed in the record books after a memorable performance during his win at the Pinetree Intercollegiate in October. The balanced talent of the team has seemed to push them individually all year.
“Even though we play a team sport, it boils down to individuals performing well, and certainly this team has taken that on,” said Moseley. “They all root hard for each other, but they’re also competitive and want to beat each other, so I think it’s been a very healthy relationship for those guys to help each other get better and push themselves.”
The team got the season underway on Feb. 23in Valencia, Calif. for the Jones Invitational. Four more tournaments will follow before the A-Sun Conference Championship begins on Apr. 19. The Owls hope that they can build off of last year’s performance and make a run through the regional tournament before aiming for an NCAA Championship.
Beck believes his team can make history and get a national title to Kennesaw.
“Absolutely,” said Beck. “I’d actually be a little disappointed if we didn’t, so I’m really looking forward to it.”