VIDEO: Randy Wylie Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – One final event stands between No. 15/15 Carson-Newman and postseason play as the Eagles head to Lenoir City, Tenn. to defend their team title at the Tennessee River Rumble at the WindRiver Golf Club on Monday and Tuesday.
It has been just under two weeks since C-N took a third-place finish at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate after a five-under showing, picking up its fourth-straight top-three finish on the season. This will be the second-straight event for the team that keeps them within East Tennessee.
"It's fantastic for the kids and our fans, our parents, people like that," Carson-Newman coach Randy Wylie said. "We'll have a bunch of folks out watching. It's a course that we know real well and so we're really excited about playing."
This is the team's fifth-consecutive appearance in the event hosted by South Atlantic Conference rival No. 8/11 Lincoln Memorial. C-N has never seen a finish outside of the top-five at the event and has won the team title two of the past three seasons.
Last year, Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) finished tied for second as the Eagles used a 20-shot turnaround from the first round to the second to win their first event of the season with a 26-over total of 602.
The event has been elevated from two rounds to three rounds of action this season. It is also the first year away from Tennessee National Golf Club since the inaugural event in 2014. WindRiver holds a 72 par course that spans 7,018 yards along Tellico Lake. While this is a new backdrop for the tournament, this event will serve as a homecoming of sorts for Headrick on the senior's home course.
"(Headrick) has been a terrific All-Conference player for us and to be playing his home course in his last event, I mean, that's pretty special," Wylie said. "I'm very excited, the whole team is, I think, to just see how we can compete."
Headrick will play at the No. 2 spot for the Eagles for the sixth time this season. Through 20 rounds of play in the 2018-19 campaign, he has amassed the second-best stroke average on the year with a 73.8.
Tom Forster (Northamptonshire, England) will lead the team into the event as the top seed for the fifth-straight tournament this season. In the latest Golfstat national player rankings released on Wednesday, he was listed as the fifth-best player among the Division II ranks with a team-leading 70.73 adjusted scoring average.
In last year's Rumble, Forster tied for 32nd with an 11-over performance. His best outing in the event came in 2017 when he tied for fifth after the event was forced to a one-round tournament due to rain.
At the No. 3 spot for C-N is Jake Mynatt (Knoxville, Tenn.), making his event debut. The freshman has played at this position in four previous events this year. He has started in every event for the Eagles this season.
Mynatt has made a splash in his first year at Mossy Creek, possessing the third-best scoring average at 73.9. Thanks to his two-under 214 showing at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, he dropped his scoring average by half a stroke.
Jackson Tyler (Wilmington, N.C.) returns to the field for a second season, this time as the fourth-seed for C-N. Starting in every event this year, the sophomore is averaging a 74.7 clip. In last year's River Rumble, Tyler tied for 11th through the two rounds with a seven-over total of 151, his best showing of his freshman campaign.
Rounding out the starting lineup for C-N is Anthony Marcinelli (Knoxville, Tenn.). This will be the senior's third start of the season but his fourth event of the year after playing in the BNI as an individual. He finished in a tie for 19th in that event at three-over with a 219. With that performance, he improved his stroke average on the season by three strokes, moving from 81 to 78.
This will be Marcinelli's first appearance at the Tennessee River Rumble since tying for 38th in 2017 when he was five-over in the single round of play.
Will Collins (Knoxville, Tenn.) will play in his sixth event of the season with the travel team, second as an individual. This will be the freshman's first appearance on the links since playing as the No. 5 at the Southern Tide Classic in early March where he tied for 49th. His scoring average stands at 75.5 through 16 rounds.
Carson-Newman is one of 20 teams in the field at this year's River Rumble. Of those 20, seven other teams join C-N and LMU from the SAC including Queens, Tusculum, Lenoir-Rhyne, Mars Hill, Coker, Wingate and Catawba.
All three of the top teams in last year's event hailed from the SAC. Two shots separated C-N, Lincoln Memorial and Wingate on the leaderboard.
Along with the Eagles and Railsplitters, Young Harris also comes into the tournament as a nationally ranked group, holding down No. 13 in the Golfstat poll and No. 11 in the Bushnell Golfweek Division II Coaches Poll.
The River Rumble opens on Monday with a 36-hole day followed by a final round of play on Tuesday. Live scoring will be provided by the folks at Lincoln Memorial via BirdieFire.