VIDEO: Randy Wylie Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With the fall portion of the year behind it, the Carson-Newman men's golf team opens the spring slate with a trip to St. Augustine, Fla. for the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate on Monday and Tuesday at the St. John's Golf Club.
The Eagles have finished in the top five of spring openers for three-straight seasons, all of those coming at the Intercollegiate. They have brought in four top three finishes in the first event of the spring since the 2011-12 season.
"Everybody is just ready to go, you know, so much excitement," Carson-Newman coach Randy Wylie said. "We have a long spring season ahead of us but the guys are just ready to go down to Florida, get in some warm weather and get down there and compete.
"It's just a real exciting time of year, you know. You can just feel all the energy at practice where everybody's ready to get on the road."
This is the seventh time the Eagles have taken part in the tournament hosted by fellow South Atlantic Conference member No. 16 Lincoln Memorial. While the tournament is a familiar one, it takes place at a new setting this year.
"I think we have a really smart team, a real good, high golf IQ team and we put together pretty good gameplans, I think, so I think that helps us," Wylie said. "If the course is new to everybody, I think, you know, I'll take our guys putting together a gameplan in a practice round for most teams. I think that should work to our advantage."
Last year's showing for the Orange and Blue resulted in a fourth-place finish at the Fleming Island Golf Club, giving C-N three-straight top five finishes in the Intercollegiate. That finish was highlighted by Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) talking a share of second-place while Tom Forster (Oundle, England) tied for fourth. They were the only two Eagles to land on the All-Tournament team.
In Headrick's three previous appearances in the event, he has landed outside of the top 10 just once, that being a tie for 28th in 2017. As for Forster, his first showing in the event back in 2017 resulted in holding a share of 11th.
The pair will once again serve as the No. 1 and No. 2 place-holders for the Eagles with Forster leading the charge for a second-straight year at the event and the third time this season.
Through the fall, Forster compiled a 70.9 adjusted scoring average, landing him at ninth in the nation for Division II players, according to Golfstat.
At the second-seed for C-N, Headrick holds a 74.3 average through eight rounds of action so far this season.
Joining the Eagles' leading duo in making a return to the field are Jackson Tyler (Wilmington, N.C.) and Anthony Marcinelli (Knoxville, Tenn.), sitting at the third and fourth spots, respectively. This is just the second time this season that the four remaining members from last year's South Atlantic Conference championship and NCAA South/Southeast Regional team have made the same travel team.
Through the previous two events, Tyler has racked up a 75.5 stroke average through six rounds of play.
The Intercollegiate will be just the second event of the season for Marcinelli after shooting a 171 in two rounds at the Shark Invitational in October before withdrawing in the third round. His shot average on the year sits at 85.5.
Rounding out the travel team for the Eagles in the spring lid-lifter is freshman Jake Mynatt (Knoxville, Tenn.). The freshman has been a starter in all of C-N's events so far this season, typically at the No. 3 spot. He holds a 74.5 stroke average through eight rounds of play with his best outing coming at the Cougar Invitational in late September where a string of 71-74-69 rounds helped him land at one-over with a 214 total, good enough for a share of 24th.
This will serve as the first top team event for Young at C-N. He finished in a tie for ninth at the Walters State Fall Classic in October with a 10-over score of 154. As for McKenna and Collins, this will be the third event of the year for each of them, with 75.4 and 74.0 stroke averages through those events, respectively.
The hosting Railsplitters took home the trophy in 2018 after ending the final round of play tied with Young Harris, forcing a scorecard playoff to decide the winner.
Aside from Carson-Newman and reigning tournament champion Lincoln Memorial, seven of the remaining 17 squads this time around hail from the SAC. The other conference groups in the field are Wingate, Coker, Catawba, Queens, Mars Hill, Tusculum and Anderson. League teams in the tournament have accounted for 14 top five victories and three tournament wins. Those victories have come from Tusculum, LMU and C-N.
The two-day tournament begins Monday morning with live results updated throughout the day via BirdieFire. A full recap with results will follow the conclusion of both days on cneagles.com.