(released by Jake Knabel, NAIA Communications and Sports Information Office)
KANSAS CITY, MO. (May 10, 2012) -- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the qualifiers for the 2012 NAIA Men's Golf National Championships. The 61st annual event will take place at Creekside Golf Club in Salem, Ore., May 22-25. First and second round pairings for the event will be announced Friday by 3 p.m. CDT.
The Our Lady of the Lake University men's golf team received the final at-large (eighth) bid to the tournament. This year will mark the third consecutive time the Saints have qualified for the tournament. Last year, the Saints received the sixth at large bid. In 2010, junior golfer Aaron Flores received an automatic bid to nationals after winning the conference tournament.
The only other team from the Red River Athletic Conference qualifying for the tournament is Texas Wesleyan University. The Rams won the conference tournament held in April and hosted by OLLU.
The 156-player field is made up of 20 automatic qualifying schools who won their conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournaments, eight team at-large selections based on the final NAIA Men's Golf Coaches' Top 25 Poll, Corban (Ore.) (host berth) and 11 individual qualifiers.
The Saints were ranked 16th in the final NAIA Men's Golf Coaches' Top 25 Poll that was released earlier today.
Nine teams that placed in the top 10 at last year's National Championships return to the field, including defending national titlist and second-ranked Oklahoma Christian. The Eagles lost 2011 National Championships individual medalist Oscar Stark to graduation, but return three golfers who participated in last year's event. 2011 runner-up British Columbia is back after receiving an at-large bid, while No. 1-ranked Oklahoma City is poised to improve upon last year's 10th-place finish. The Stars ride into Salem after besting Oklahoma Christian in the Sooner Athletic Conference Championships.
The 11 individual qualifiers includes eight automatic selections and three at-large choices. Each of the automatic selections garnered a spot in the National Championships by winning either his respective conference tournament or regular-season individual title. Of the 11, Thane Ringler of The Master's (Calif.) and Omar Tejeira of St. Thomas (Fla.) are the only returnees from 2011. The three at-large participants were chosen by the tournament committee.
None of the top-10 individual finishers return from last year's qualifiers. The highest-placing returnee from the 2011 National Championships is Grand View's (Iowa) Josh Manske, who shot a 74-73-74-72 – 293 to finish 12th. The Cumberlands' (Ky.) Aaron Watkins, who finished tied for 50th at the 2011 championships, leads the nation this season in adjusted scoring average.
2012 NAIA Men's Golf National Championships Qualifiers
Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
At-Large No. 3
Cal State San Marcos
At-Large No. 2
Frontier Conference Tournament Champion
Mid-South Conference Tournament Champion
Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Grand View (Iowa)
Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament Champion
Holy Cross (Ind.)
Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Johnson & Wales (Fla.)
At-Large No. 5
Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Mid-Central College Conference Tournament Champion
Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
At-Large No. 1
Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)
At-Large No. 8
Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
Unaffiliated Group No. 2 Tournament Champion
South Carolina Beaufort
At-Large No. 7
Southern Nazarene (Okla.)
At-Large No. 6
Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Red River Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
TranSouth Athletic Conference Tournament Champion
Association of Independent Institutions Tournament Champion
Wayland Baptist (Texas)
At-Large No. 4
Webber International (Fla.)
The Sun Conference Tournament Champion
William Woods (Mo.)
Unaffiliated Group No. 1 Tournament Champion
Justin Burns, Central Baptist (Ark.)
Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Individual Medalist
Jordan Leisinger, Cincinnati Christian (Ohio)
Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Individual Medalist
Jesse Heinly, Concordia (Ore.)
Adrian Balbas, Davenport (Mich.)
Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Regular-Season Medalist
Thane Ringler, The Master's (Calif.)
Jordan Dickson, Missouri Valley
Heart of America Athletic Conference Individual Medalist
Brandon Thompson, Morningside (Iowa)
Great Plains Athletic Conference Individual Medalist
Chase Lindsey, Oklahoma Baptist
Mitch Card, Simpson (Calif.)
Unaffiliated Group No. 2 Individual Medalist
Omar Tejeira, St. Thomas (Fla.)
The Sun Conference Individual Medalist
Nic Ishee, William Carey (Miss.)
Southern States Athletic Conference Individual Medalist
The NAIA Champions of Character program aims to instill five core values in NAIA athletes, coaches: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership, and sportsmanship. Our Lady of the Lake University shares and supports these values and strives to promote the Champions of Character program by working with students, coaches through our Champions of Character educational program. For more information on the Champions of Character program, click here: www.championsofcharacter.org.
Luis A. Lárraga
Sports Information Assistant