|Owens golf ready for nationals (05-21-13)|
|Written by JACOB BEVERLY Sentinel Sports Writer|
|Tuesday, 21 May 2013 08:47|
The Owens Community College Express golf team has been making history all year.
The Express have been resetting the record books in every category imaginable and the most important part of the season, the national tournament, still remains.
The nationals are today through Friday at Goose Pond Colony Golf Course in Scottsboro, Ala.
Since the inception of the program in 2005-06, there has never been a team that has accomplished what the Express have been able to this year. With the long list of accomplishments the team has accumulated throughout the year, there is no surprise to why the team is ranked third in the nation.
"The biggest key that we've had this year is team chemistry and the competitors they are amongst each other," said head coach Josh Williams. "They don't go out there to beat the other team. They actually go out there and are competitive against each other. They are pushing each other and striving to make each other better."
Even with all the success, the team is not satisfied. It showed it by continuing their record breaking performances and earning a first-place finish at the Region XII tournament.
It's the first time in school history Owens won the region.
With the victory, it also earned a trip to nationals for the third time in school history.
"For me, it's just the hard work and dedication that I've put in and the time that I've put in to get these kids here and for these kids. I told them, 'you've left your mark in history and that's huge and it's a great feeling,'" Williams said.
The Express were able to take that next step and win a championship even though it was in Williams' first year as head coach, although, he is no stranger to the team. Williams has been part of the golf team his entire career, serving as a player on the inception team and as an assistant coach for the past five years.
''It feels good for all the people that have helped me get this far," Williams said. "For the past players that have played and for these kids that have played in the record fashion that they did.
''Overall, it shows the hard work and dedication that I've put in and what these kids have put in. It truly is a blessing and I can't thank enough to all the people who have helped me get this far."
It hasn't always been an easy road for Owens. It can be quite challenging for a successful junior college program to be built and sustained when students are only eligible for two years.
"The hardest part about this is when you talk to kids is to get them to buy into your system. To get them to buy in and understand what you are trying to do," Williams said. "You are trying to get to a national championship and you are trying to get them onto another university. It's very tough especially nowadays to get kids to understand you can come to a junior college for a couple years and get your name out there."
At the nationals, Owens will be led by freshman Brandon Hoelzer, the Region XII player of the year.
"We are definitely ready for it," Hoelzer said. "I'm as prepared as I've ever been for anything right now. I'm just ready to go and see how we stack up to the competition."
With all the hard work put in for this one moment, a championship isn't just a dream anymore to these guys. It has become a reality and the team isn't intimidated by any of the competition it will face.
"I've been talking to the guys. I feel we are all pretty confident," Hoelzer said. "We haven't actually competed against these guys yet, but we've looked at some of their score and I think we are right there with them. I think we can win if we play well."
A maximum of five players are allowed to compete on a designated intercollegiate team and the no-cut tournament will consist of four rounds beginning at 7 a.m. each day. However, seven Express players will compete in the individual portion of the championship tournament.
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