The men's golf team is the first East Bay squad to earn a berth in the NCAA postseason since the program returned to Division II in 2009-10. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)
Just three days after finishing sixth at the 2012 CCAA Championships, the Cal State East Bay men’s golf team was announced among the 80-team field for the 2012 NCAA Division II Championships on Friday, April 27. The Pioneers are the first men’s golf team in program history to reach the NCAA playoffs and will be the first East Bay team to make an NCAA postseason appearance since returning to Division II during the 2009-10 campaign.
Ranked No. 9 in the NCAA Division II West Region Rankings, the Pioneers will travel to the Central/West Regional at The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., for three rounds on the Gold Course from May 7-9. The field of 80 teams and 32 individuals will compete at four separate regional sites for the right to move on to the 2012 NCAA Division II Finals. The top five teams and two individuals in each regional will advance to the finals, to be held at The Cardinal Club in Simpsonville, Ky., May 15-19 as part of the 2012 Division II Spring Championships Festival.
East Bay has had a successful spring campaign that included a first-place finish at its only home tournament, the Pioneer Shootout, in March and three top-10 finishes by junior Chris Herzog. The Pioneers posted their best team three-round total at the CCAA Championships earlier this week, finishing just eight-over par, led by Herzog and Jeff Cornez, who tied for eighth in the 40-player field with a 215 (-1) over three rounds at Hunters Ranch Golf Course in Paso Robles.
Herzog and Cornez have been the Pioneers’ top two golfers this spring, with one or the other leading the team in five of the six spring tournaments. Herzog took home CCAA Golfer of the Week honors on Mar. 7 after collecting the team’s second individual medalist honors of the 2011-12 campaign at the Pioneer Shootout. Herzog shot a five-over 221, including a 71 (-1) in the second round to pick up the win at Hiddenbrooke Golf Club and become East Bay’s first-ever Golfer of the Week award winner. During the fall season, Herzog led the team twice, including a third-place finish at the Denis Rose Invitational, where he tied with two players from teams that earned NCAA Regional berths.
Meanwhile, Cornez has quietly come on strong this spring, leading the team at the Skyhawk Desert Classic with a tie for 11th in a field of 56 and the eighth-place showing at CCAA Championships. Cornez was one of just four players to post a round of 68 (-4) or better at the CCAA Tournament, going four-under on the final day to improve from a tie for 23rd after two rounds.
Senior A.J. Warren led the CCAA Championships through 27 holes after carding an opening-round 69 to lead all players. He also led the team twice this season, carding a season-low 222 (+12) at both the Grand Canyon Fall Invitational and the Coyote Classic during the fall campaign.
Cal State East Bay will be joined by 19 other Central and West Region teams at the regional tournament, including CCAA opponents Chico State, Cal State Stanislaus, Cal State Monterey Bay and UC San Diego. The other West Region teams selected are Western Washington, regional host Grand Canyon, Hawaii Hilo, Dixie State and St. Martin’s. The 10 Central Region teams that earned regional berths are: Colorado School of Mines, Colorado Springs, Colorado State-Pueblo, Western New Mexico, Nebraska-Kearney, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State Mankato, Colorado Mesa, Bemidji State and Concordia-St. Paul.
The Otters are the defending national champions after claiming the school’s first NCAA Championship in 2011. CSUMB also boasts the 2012 CCAA Individual Champion in freshman Alex Sobstad. The Central/West Regional field also includes the defending individual champion in Chico State senior Kyle Souza, who helped the Wildcats take the 2012 CCAA title earlier this week. Six teams competing in the Central/West Regional were ranked in the April 25 NGCA National Poll, including No. 3 Cal State Stanislaus, No. 6 Chico State, No. 9 Western Washington, No. 15 Grand Canyon, No. 17 Hawaii Hilo and No. 25 Colorado Springs.