SJU Golf Opens NCAA Championship Tuesday in Florida -

SJU Golf Opens NCAA Championship Tuesday in Florida

By Frank Rajkowski and Ryan Klinkner ’04 

Saint John’s golf competes at the NCAA Division III Championship this Tuesday-Friday, May 10-13, at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. – Live Results

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s golf has now earned 19 trips to the NCAA Division III national meet since 2000 and won national championships in 2007 and ’08.

But despite that long history of success, junior Thomas Gutzmer (Jordan, Minn.) and his teammates actually entered the national meet last year relatively inexperienced at that level of competition. 

Only one player on last season’s roster – then-senior Esten Stensrud ’21, who is now helping out as an assistant coach – had been part of the last SJU team to play at nationals in 2019.

This time around, though, it’s a different story, and Gutzmer said that will work to his team’s advantage when the Johnnies tee off at the 2022 Division III national meet. 

The four-round tournament begins Tuesday and runs through Friday at the Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-In-The-Hills, Florida.

“It’s really almost the same group from a year ago going down there,” said Gutzmer, whose team finished tied for 15th out of 37 teams at last season’s meet played at Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, W.Va. “Even Esten is back with us as an assistant coach. So we all have a pretty good idea of what to expect.”

It also helps that the Johnnies were able to get a look at the course on a spring break training trip this past March.

“We were just there a month-a-half ago, so we’re familiar with where everything is,” SJU coach Michael Whitlock said. “We halfway know where we’re going when we’re driving around. That really helps increase the comfort level.”

The spring break trip was doubly important because the cold weather this spring allowed the Johnnies only three competitions to prepare for nationals – all of which took place in a span of just four days. 

SJU faced Gustavus Adolphus in a dual meet on April 21, then played host to the SJU Winter Classic on April 23 in Sauk Centre and the SJU Spring Invitational on April 24 in Monticello. 

The Johnnies finished first at the latter two events. Sophomore Glavine Schugel (New Ulm, Minn.) recorded seven birdies and tied for second with a one-under-par score of 71 at the Winter Classic and Gutzmer shot a two-over-par 73 to tie for third overall at the Spring Invitational. The two events were originally scheduled as just one two-day tournament, but were split due to the poor weather and the need to get additional competitions in.

“I think we’ve played as well as we could have hoped for with such a limited (spring) season,” Whitlock said. “We’ve put up some good numbers. Our guys are never satisfied with how they play. They always want to do better. But I think we’ve played pretty well overall in some fairly tough conditions.”

Which has the Johnnies are feeling good about their prospects heading into nationals. 

Perennial power Methodist (N.C.) enters the tournament ranked No. 1 in the most recent Bushnell/Golfweek Division III Coaches Poll, having won their final three tournaments of the regular season – including the 2022 USA South Men’s Golf Championship. The Monarchs boast four golfers in the top 20 in Golfstat’s Division III individual rankings.

Emory (Ga.) is ranked second and Huntingdon (Ala.) is ranked No. 3. Defending national champion Illinois Wesleyan is ranked eighth. The Titans swept the top three spots at the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Championship on April 29-30, led by senior Jimmy Morton who claimed medalist honors.

“We’ve seen what it takes to compete at nationals and we know this isn’t a stage that’s too big for us,” Gutzmer said. “Nerves aren’t going to be an issue. We feel like we can play with anybody in the country right now. I think top 10, or even top five, is a realistic goal. 

“And if we put everything together and everyone plays as well as they’re capable of, who knows what might happen.”

ALL-MIAC: The 2021-22 All-MIAC golf award were announced earlier today (May 9). For SJU, there was no change, as all five Johnnies earned All-MIAC honors by finishing in the top 10 at last fall’s MIAC Championship: Nate Loxtercamp (second), Sam Berger (t-fourth), Glavine Schugel (sixth), Blake Schuler (t-seventh) and Thomas Gutzmer (10th). Gutzmer was named to the MIAC All-Sportsmanship team.

UNDER THE RADAR: SJU received votes in the final Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) top 25 poll of the regular season and enters the NCAA Championship ranked No. 29 according to Golfstat (No. 1 in the region).

The Johnnies are currently tied with Aurora (Ill.) for the most tournament wins in Division III, seven, and are 11th nationally in both adjusted scoring average (73.51) and average drop score (78.65). SJU is 6-2 against Gustavus Adolphus, which is ranked No. 17 by Golfstat and No. 19 by the GCAA, this season.

SJU’S NCAA HISTORY: The Johnnies are making their 19th postseason appearance this week. Of the previous 18, SJU has 14 top-15 finishes, including 11 in the top 10. SJU won back-to-back national championships in 2007 and 2008.

THE FIVE: The Johnnies are scheduled to send their top five golfers to Florida this week.

1. Sophomore Glavine Schugel (73.3 avg.)

2. Junior Thomas Gutzmer (73.8 avg.)

3. Sophomore Nate Loxtercamp (74.2 avg.)

4. Sophomore Blake Schuler (74.8 avg.)

5. Sophomore Sam Berger (75.5 avg.)

YOUNG TEAM: As mentioned in the note above, SJU is sending a lineup that consists of one junior and four sophomores to nationals. The Johnnies have sent a five-some to the NCAA Championship without a senior three times previously, the last in 2011: 2000 (seventh/23 teams), 2002 (eighth/23 teams) and 2011 (t-third/40 teams). 

THE FIELD: A total of 221 participants, 43 teams and six individuals, will compete at the 2022 NCAA Championship. The Johnnies will be joined by No. 24 Aurora (Ill.), No. 4 Babson (Mass.), Bethany Lutheran, Cabrini (Pa.), No. 5/6 Carnegie Mellon (Pa.), No. 7 Christopher Newport (Va.), No. 12/13 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.), Drew (N.J.), No. 2 Emory (Ga.), Endicott (Mass.), Farmingdale State (N.Y.), Franklin & Marshall (Pa.), No. 11/13 Greensboro (N.C.), No. 17/19 Gustavus Adolphus, Hamilton (N.Y.), No. 18 Hampden-Sydney (Va.), Hope (Mich.), No. 3 Huntingdon (Ala.), Husson (Maine), No. 8 Illinois Wesleyan, John Carroll (Ohio), No. 20 Kenyon (Mich.), Luther (Iowa), No. 10 Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), No. 1 Methodist (N.C.), New York University, No. 14/15 Oglethorpe (Ga.), Penn State-Altoona, No. 11/12 Piedmont (Ga.), Rosemont (Pa.), St. John Fisher (N.Y.), Saint Joseph’s (Maine), Salem State (Mass.), No. 9 Sewanee (Tenn.), Stevens (N.J.), Stevenson (Pa.), Transylvania (Ky.), No. 14/15 Washington and Lee (Va.), Webster (Mo.), Westminster (Pa.), No. 16 Willamette (Ore.) and No. 4/6 Wittenberg (Ohio).

The six individuals are Eddie Coffren V of Lynchburg (Va.), Joey Harrison of Rensselaer (N.Y.), Cole Jahnke of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Jacob Mason of Trinity (Texas), Chase Maus of Texas Lutheran and Christian Rodriguez of Southwestern (Texas).

THE CUT: The field will be cut to the top 18 teams and top six individuals (not playing on one of those teams) following the first two rounds.

MISSION INN RESORT AND CLUB: This week’s NCAA Championship will be held at Mission Inn Resort and Club, which showcases two courses: El Campeon (par 72, 6,748 yards) and Las Colinas (par 71, 6,792 yards). The tournament’s final two rounds will be played at El Campeon.

El Campeon G.C.

El Campeon was built in 1917 and enhanced in 1926. It is one of the South’s oldest golf courses and blends unusual Central Florida elevation changes of more than 85 feet. The course’s signature hole is the par-5 No. 17, which features a long double dogleg.

Las Colinas G.C.

Built in 1992, Las Colinas (Spanish for “the hills”) offers a different challenge from El Campeon. It is an inland-links design with generous, wide-open fairways, gentle rolling hills and large, undulating greens. Its signature hole is “Alligator Alley”, the par-5 No. 12 that spans 493 yards along a tree-lined fairway and requires absolute accuracy from tee-to-green.

TEE TIMES: The Johnnies are scheduled to play with top-ranked Methodist (N.C.) and No. 9 Sewanee (Tenn.) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s round is scheduled to start for SJU at 7:30 a.m. ET off No. 1 on the El Campeon Course. Wednesday’s tee time is 11:45 a.m. ET off No. 10 on the Las Colinas Course. The tee times for Thursday and Friday are based off the standings at El Campeon.


El Campeon (par 72)

-2 – Andrew Longbella, NCAA Championship (May 10, 2005)

-1 – Dennis Granath, Gordin Classic (Sept. 25, 2011)

-1 – Josh Sherlin, NCAA Championship (May 10, 2005)

E – Ryan Gallagher, NCAA Championship (May 19, 2017)

E – Sam Olson, NCAA Championship (May 18, 2017)

E – Casey Vangsness, Gordin Classic (Sept. 25, 2011)

E – Josh Sherlin, NCAA Championship (May 9, 2005)

+1 – Ryan Gallagher, Division III Preview (Sept. 20, 2016)

+1 – Andrew Longbella, NCAA Championship (May 11, 2005)

+2 – Sam Olson, NCAA Championship (May 16, 2017)

+2 – Austin Kottke, Division III Preview (Sept. 19, 2016)

+2 – Kyle Fredrickson, NCAA Championship (May 12, 2005)

Las Colinas (par 71)

-2 – Sam Olson, Division III Preview (Sept. 18, 2016)

E – Mack Farley, Division III Preview (Sept. 18, 2016)

+1 – Wes Dickhaus, NCAA Championship (May 17, 2017)


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