DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Mount St. Mary's men's golf team won its first Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship on Sunday. The Mount had four players finish in the Top-7 for the first time in program history on its way to its first league title.
Mount St. Mary's will move onto the NCAA Men's Golf Championships on May 17-19. The squad will find out its destination on Monday night during the NCAA Selection Show at 9 p.m. The show will only be broadcasted online at www.ncaa.com.
The Mount came into the final round nine strokes ahead of Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart. The Mount had two players card a one-over score of 73 and two players post a five-over day of 77 to card a 300 as a team on the afternoon. The Knights finished the final round with a 309 and the Pioneers registered a 310 to help the Mountaineers win the title by 18 strokes.
Kevin Ellison (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) was the Mount's top golfer after finishing the three-day event with a score of 222 and in third place. The sophomore came into the final round one stroke behind Sacred Heart's Leo Garcia and took the lead after three holes on Sunday. Ellison was even on the first three holes while Garcia bogeyed the first and third holes. Ellison then double bogeyed the fourth and bogeyed the seventh, 10th and 17th to finish with a 77 on the day and 222 in the event, and three strokes behind the medalist Garcia. The third-place finish was the first Top-5 standing by a Mount St. Mary's golfer since Nick Montemarano was fourth in the 1998 NEC Championships.
Devin O'Grady (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) finished two strokes behind Ellison in fifth place with a three-day score of 224. The sophomore posted a birdie on the sixth and 16th holes while bogeying the ninth and double bogeying the 14th to finish with a one-over round of 73 in the final round. It marks the second-straight year O'Grady finished in the Top-10 at the NEC Championships after placing ninth in last year's championships. O'Grady becomes the fifth Mount golfer to finish in the Top-10 twice in his career and the first since current head coach Kevin Farrell finished in the Top-10 in 2007 and 2008.
Tonny Aizpun (Barcelona, Spain/Lycee Francais De Barcelone) also posted a 73 on the afternoon to record a three-round score of 226 and finish in sixth place. In the final round, Aizpun posted a two-under first nine holes with a bogey on the first hole and birdies on four, six and nine and then bogeyed 11, 12 and 15 for his one-over day.
Danny Michalek (Mount Airy, Md./Mount St. Joseph) rounded the Mount's Top-7 finishers with a three-round score of 228 and in seventh place. The senior registered a birdie on the fifth hole while posting bogeys on three, six, seven, nine, 12 and 14 for his five over round on Sunday.
Ellison, O'Grady, Aizpun and Michalek each posted Top-10 marks in program history at the league championships and were named to the All-Tournament team. Farrell was named the NEC Coach of the Year.
Ryan Triller (Pylesville, Md./North Harford) finished 41st in the tournament with a score of 242.
Mount St. Mary's went wire-to-wire on its way to its first NEC Championship title. The Mount posted three of the program's Top-10 scores at the NEC Championships after carding a 297 in the first round, a 303 in the second round and a 300 for a three-round score of 900. The score of 900 was the second-best in program history in the NEC Championships.
Mount St. Mary's won the event with a score of 900, 18 strokes ahead of LIU Brooklyn (918) and Fairleigh Dickinson (918) while Sacred Heart (919), Robert Morris (927), Central Connecticut State (928), Monmouth (929), Saint Francis (Pa.) (931), Wagner (976) and St. Francis (N.Y.) (1037) rounded out the 10-team field.
The Mount will now make its first NCAA Championship appearance and will play at one of six locations. The squad will find out Monday night if they will be sent to Gandover Resort (Greensboro, N.C.), the University of Georgia Golf Course (Athens, Ga.), University of Michigan Golf Course (Ann Arbor, Mich.), the Club at Olde Stone (Bowling Green, Ky.), the Jimmy Austin OU Golf Club (Norman, Okla.) or the Stanford Golf Course (Stanford, Calif.).