CenturyLink Collegiate Invite has early-season Conference Carolinas flair
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 17, 2011 11:05 PM
The second installment of the CenturyLink Collegiate Invite just might seem like a mini Conference Carolinas tournament when play begins Monday morning at Lane Tree Golf Club.
The field of 17 men's and women's teams has five members from the perennially-strong Division II league -- tournament co-hosts Mount Olive and Barton, St. Andrews, Belmont Abbey and Queens University-Charlotte (women only).
"The field is nearly full this year since we have added women's teams to the tournament, so it should be a lot of fun," said Barton head coach John Hackney, whose men's team is ranked No. 11 in the Nike/Golf World Coaches poll. "The one thing I really like about this event is that we have teams from all over North Carolina coming to the eastern part of the state to play.
"It is also good for us and Mount Olive because we have five Conference Carolinas schools playing in the field."
MOC, Barton and St. Andrews will put "A" and "B" teams on the par-72 course on the men's side. Completing the group are defending champion Cape Fear Community College, Louisburg JC, Johnston CC and Wake Tech.
No. 16-ranked UNC Pembroke rounds out the women's side.
Admission is free to the 36-hole event. Cart rentals are $5 each day.
The Trojan "B" men's team will tee off at 9:50 a.m. on the 10th tee. The Mount Olive "A" men's and women's teams will begin play at 10:40 a.m.
"The field on both sides is very good this year," said MOC head coach Chip Spiron. "I'm really looking forward to watching our girls play. This will be their first event of the year. So far, our qualifying scores have been good and there's competition from top to bottom that we haven't had in the past.
"Our women's program has only played a 'home' event one other time and they are all excited for this year's event."
The Mount Olive women are led by senior Valentine Urquiola, a native of Venezuela who has nearly rewritten the program record books during her stellar career. She is just the third Trojan woman in the program's eight-year history to earn all-conference honors for three consecutive seasons.
Mark O'Hara could emerge the top Trojan performer during the two-day affair. The Liverpool, England, native had two top-10 finishes last spring and was named the league's golfer of the month for April 2011.
Teammate Kyle Simpson aced No. 16 -- a par-3, 213-yard layout -- during last year's tournament. It was just the second hole-in-one recorded in MOC men's history.
"The men's team should see some improvement from last year," said Spiron. "Unfortunately, one of our best players from last year has been hurt for the last month and a half. He needs to get healthy and our younger players need to step up for us to have the success we want."
Barton returns six of its top seven players off last year's team that concluded the season ranked No. 7 nationally and lost to Lynn (Fla.) University in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II tournament. The Dogs are led by 2010 All-Americans Daniel Claytor of Rocky Mount and Michael Marshburn of Cary. Dermot McElhennon, from New Bern, was the Conference Carolinas freshman-of-the-year in 2010.
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