BREWTON, ALA. – Wallace State's sixth-ranked golf team has knocked on the door of a tournament championship all spring.
The Lions broke through Tuesday, capturing their third consecutive Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament title and 13th in program history at the Country Club of Brewton.
Wallace State sophomore Sylas Elliott was the conference tournament low medalist for the second year in a row, Eli Marty and Trey Hanvey also earned All-Tournament recognition for the Lions and coach Dan York was named the 2016 ACCC Coach of the Year.
"Every conference championship is special, and for us to win three in a row with the competition we face every year is special. I'm proud of our guys, and I'm proud of the guys who were at home. They worked hard and pushed the guys who were here. It was a total team effort. Coach (Ches) Harris has also done an excellent job. It's taken everyone to get us to this point," said York, a NJCAA Hall of Fame coach who has led the program since 1987. "It's a great win and gives us a boost of confidence heading into the district tournament in a couple of weeks."
Wallace State charged out to commanding lead after the opening 36 holes on Monday, shooting low scores of 298 and 303 respectively. The Lions maintained a 15-stroke cushion over host Central Alabama heading into Tuesday's final round, which teed off a couple of hours late because of inclement weather.
Wallace State closed the tournament with an 8-over par 296 and an 897 overall. Central Alabama finished 14 strokes back with a 911.
This title was a contrast from last season's when Wallace State outlasted Faulkner State in one-hole playoff.
Elliott, a Cullman High grad, repeated his merits as the ACCC tournament low medalist. He finished with a 2-over 218 in Brewton, shooting a 73-72-73. Elliott, a 2nd-team NJCAA All-American last season, had the lowest score in the first and second rounds on the way to the individual title.
"It's good we are able to win this as we near the end of the season. I hope it's not our last win this spring. Defending this tournament meant a lot to us," Elliott said. "This was the best I've felt all spring and the best I've hit the ball. Of course, every golfer feels they left shots out there, but I have nothing to complain about. We had a great tournament."
Marty was right on Elliott's heels, finishing second with a 7-over 223. The sophomore from Good Hope carded a pair of 75's in the opening two rounds and added a 73 on the final 18.
Marty, who was a 3rd-team NJCAA All-American last season, was impressed with the strong lead the Lions assembled on Monday.
"There's no such thing as a safe lead in this sport, but it's always nice to grab a comfortable one, especially against the teams in this tournament," Marty said. "This win means a lot because we've had a lot of second and third-place finishes lately. We've got to continue to play well and use this as momentum later this month."
Hanvey also earned All-Tournament recognition after finishing tied for fourth with Central Alabama's Trey Poteet.
Hanvey, a freshman from Fairview, shot an 11-over 227 (77-78-72). Hanvey's even par on Tuesday was tied for the best round.
"To have three of the five guys on the All-Tournament team from Wallace State is special and to have all three of them be from Cullman County is incredible," York said. "I'm extremely proud of Sylas Elliott and Eli Marty. They've been leaders all year, and hopefully Trey Hanvey is falling in right behind, and he'll do the same thing next year."
Wallace State sophomore Walker Gordon finished 8th with a 235 and freshman Chip Willoughby shot a 239.
Prior to the ACCC/Region 22 tournament, Wallace State had three third-place finishes and a runner-up finish under its belt this spring.
Wallace State will now prepare for the NJCAA District 4 tournament, scheduled for April 24-26 at TP Country Club in Cullman. The top six qualifying teams advance to the national tournament in May.
"We're going to enjoy this for a bit, but we've got to work even harder to win district. I feel good about where we are at," York said.
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Coach of the Year - Dan York (right) - Wallace State Community College
(L-R) Eli Marty (WSCC), Trey Poteet (CACC), Sylas Elliott (WSCC), Trey Hanvey (WSCC), Lauri Hacklin (CACC)
Tournament Medalist - Sylas Elliott (WSCC)