The Edmond Sun

May 5, 2011

Bronchos win regional, earn spot at nationals

Special to The Sun

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — There may be no stopping Central Oklahoma now.

The No. 1-ranked Bronchos used a final-round rally to earn their ninth tournament title of the 2010-11 season here Wednesday, overcoming a 10-stroke deficit to tie fifth-rated Abilene Christian for the South Central/Central Regional crown and earn a spot in the national tournament.

UCO shot a closing 290 to finish three trips around the waterlogged Cherry Blossom Golf Club with an 876 total, equaling ACU’s total. Cameron was third in the 20-team tournament at 881, with Missouri-St. Louis (893) and Central Missouri (893) rounding out the top five teams that advance to the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships on May 16-20 in Florence, Ala.

“I can’t say enough about my guys and how hard they fought today,” UCO coach Dax Johnston said. “They never gave up and kept battling to the end. We want to win every tournament we play and these guys weren’t satisfied with just qualifying for nationals, they wanted to win this tournament.

“It was a long, hard day and there were a lot of ebbs and flows of emotion, but we kept things in check and played solid all day. We’re looking forward to going to the national tournament and seeing what we can do there.”

The Bronchos were 10th after Monday’s first round and had to sit around until early this morning after second-round play on Tuesday was washed out by rain. Teams returned for 36 holes today and UCO quickly moved up the ranks in the morning round, shooting a 290 to jump up to third behind ACU and Grand Valley State.

The comeback continued in the afternoon, with Central finally drawing even with the Wildcats in the final two holes to earn a share of its first regional title since 2005.

Senior star Colby Shrum sparked UCO’s final-day surge with rounds of 72-69, while Josh Creel had back-to-back even-par 72s. Baer Aneshansley was steady all day in shooting 74-73, Chris Muriana came up big in the morning with an even-par 72 before following with a 76 and Andrew Green shot 79-79.

“Chris was our hero today,” Johnston said. “He came through in the clutch like no other, especially this morning, and we couldn’t have won without him. Obviously, Colby played great once again and Josh and Baer gave us the consistent rounds we needed, but Chris really stepped up when we needed him the most.”

Shrum ended up as the regional runner-up with a three-under 213 total, finishing four shots behind ACU’s Cyril Bouniol. Creel tied for 10th at three-over 219.

Shrum had 10 birdies on the day as he continued his sensational senior season, while Muriana overcame an early bogey in his morning round with a three-birdie binge en route to the crucial 72 that sparked UCO’s comeback.

Creel birdied two of his last three holes and Aneshansley played his final 15 holes one-under to help complete the late rally in the afternoon round that gave the Bronchos a share of the regional title and great momentum going into the national tournament.