Sunday, May 20, 2007

FSU Golfers head to Michigan

Here is another great story from our dear friend, Duane:

FSU golfers leave for nationals Falcons reflect on playing for NCAA title

Prior to departing for the NCAA National Golf Championships in Allendale, Mich. Saturday morning, Fairmont State’s five golfers and coaching staff took some time Friday evening to gather at the home of Phil and Diane Burnside and reflect upon what it means to be making the school’s first-ever finals appearance in the sport in an NCAA event and the Falcons’ first appearance as a golf team in a national final of any kind since the late 1950s.

FSU will play practice rounds at The Meadows, a 6,992-yard, par-71 course on today and Monday. The four­day, 72-hole tournament, which features 20 teams and 10 individuals from across the nation, gets under way Tuesday morning.

Here are the impressions of FSU’s players and coaching staff of what it means to have an opportunity to play for a national championship.

Jon Burnside, Senior — “There’s a quote from French writer Anatole France that kind of sums things up for me. ‘To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream. Not only plan, but also believe.’ Gaining great accomplishments comes with a dream, accepting great awards comes from a strong work ethic. Myself as an indi­vidual and the guys on the team, the reason we’ve gained these accomplishments is we did have a dream about them, and the reason we’ve been able to accomplish what we have so far is that each one of us has a strong work ethic. I was the captain of this team as a freshman, and I knew what leadership was and how important it was, but I think now that I’m a senior I’ve become a lot better over the past few years at playing that role. I think Tyler (Franklin) is the same way. Our experience over the years not only taught us great leadership, but it taught us how to win golf tournaments and how to play for each other. We click together real well as a team, and it’s an honor for me to play this coming week with the four other guys on our team for a national title.”

Tyler Franklin, Senior — “It’s still real­ly kind of hard to describe the excitement that all of us are feeling right now. When Jon (Burnside) and I were freshman we sat around with coach (Reid) Amos and coach (Michael) Walker because it was their first year as well and we talked about how great it would be to someday have the chance to compete for a national title. We knew we needed to get some help. Reid recruited Will Gautreau out of Canada and Walker got us connected with Justin Caroli, who wanted to transfer in which turned out to be two huge recruits for us. Then we added Zack Rudy as a transfer and all of the pieces of the puzzle just came together for us. Our first goal was to win the conference championship and we did that. Then we focused on winning the Super Regional and earning the right to go to the NCAA finals and we did that. Honestly, I don’t think it all has really set in for me yet. When we get there and I get the chance to see the best players in the country and know that I’m actually at the national finals and playing with some of the best young golfers in the nation it’s going to be a special feeling. It’s something I and everyone else on our team will remember for the rest of our lives.”

Will Gautreau, Junior — “We’re all very excited about this opportuni­ty. It’s great that we’ve gotten ourselves to the national tourna­ment, but you know in our minds that’s not really enough for us right now. We all want to go there and play our best golf of the season and maybe give ourselves a chance to win it. We’ve got a lot of con­fidence going into this tourna­ment. We’ve got a lot of heart going into this tournament and the other teams around the nation I’m sure feel the same way. We don’t really know how good they are and at the same time they don’t really know how good we are. I guess what I’m saying is just about every team has the opportunity to play well. I believe that we have five great players on our team and with that in mind I think we’ve got as good of a chance to win it as anyone else.”

Justin Caroli, Junior — “It’s so hard to really put into words, but I can tell you it’s a dream come true for me and every one of us. When I was a little kid and started golfing my dream was to someday to play for a national champi­onship and one day go pro and play on the tour. Well I’ve accomplished one of those goals and the feeling quite hon­estly is remarkable. I couldn’t ask for four better guys to play with either. That even makes it that much more special. The unity and team chemistry we have is one of the big reasons we’ve enjoyed the successes that we have. I’m excited and can’t wait to get out there and compete with these guys.”

Zack Rudy, Sophomore — “This was our goal the whole year to qualify for nationals and we’re here now and have that opportuni­ty. We felt like we had the team to be able to make it to the national tournament and as an individ­ual I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this team. The guys on it are very, very special.There’s no question they’ve taught me a lot this year about what it takes to succeed both on and off the golf course. We have great leadership and great talent on this team and the experience I’ve gained this past season playing with these guys is only going to make me better in the future. I didn’t play very well in the regional, but I was cheering the other four on and supporting them 100 percent. This past week I’ve practiced very hard for the guys on this team. I’m hoping I can go up there and post some good numbers this week to help us have success.”

Reid Amos, Head Coach — “Personally, I grew up in Fairmont and was a Fairmont State fan since the time I was a kid. I watched Joe Retton coach and Deacon Duvall coach and have had the chance to be around great coaches for many years. I attended Fairmont State and am a Fairmont State graduate and I’ve been person­ally motivated as how to moti­vate kids by individuals like Tim Murphy and Rusty Elliott. I’ve seen how they handle their young men and respect that. The idea that, that doesn’t play a role in golf is not true. Golf is the same as any other team sport. You have to build team chem­­istry and I believe we’ve done that. These kids play very hard for one another, not themselves. They take a lot of pride in wear­ing Fairmont State on their chests which is the way it was here years ago. There aren’t a whole lot of programs who can say they’ve reached the national finals and we’re in a national final in men’s golf for the first time since the NAIA days of the 1950s. We’re so proud to be going back and it’s because of the fine young men we have on this team. They deserve the credit.”

Michael Walker, Assistant Coach — “Obviously it means a lot to all of us and before the season we kind of felt like if this was going to happen this was going to be the year for it with Jon (Burnside) and Tyler (Franklin) being seniors for us. It’s been a progression for us. I’ve been with the pro­gram for four years and to see that progression has been a real joy. We started by moving up in the ranks in the WVIAC.Then we made a trip to the regional two years ago. Last year we won the conference championship and went back to the regionals and finished fourth and this year we won the regional and now have the chance to play for a national title. As a coach this is what you strive for. You always strive to be the best and when you step back and look at all of the programs and players in Division II who don’t get this opportunity you realize how very special this really is.”

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