College notes: MSU men's golf sweats out at-large NCAA bid
How ya doing, Casey Lubahn?
"I'm better now," Michigan State's men's golf coach said Wednesday night. "I've never sweated out an NCAA Regional selection like that. That was crazy."
The Spartans earned their third consecutive NCAA Championships bid — but it wasn't a slam dunk. Michigan State was among the final teams in the 81-team field. It earned an 11 seed for the Columbus, Ohio, Regional, and will play May 14-16 at the Ohio State Golf Club's Scarlet Course.
Oklahoma State is the top seed in the Regional. Big Ten tournament champion Illinois, Northwestern and Penn State also are in the Regional.
"We were sure it was a coin flip. At various times throughout the day, I heard we were for sure out, and for sure in," said Lubahn, a former star Michigan State golfer who's in his seventh season as head coach. "It was pretty much a 50-50.
"For us to go three years in a row ... that puts a good stamp on our program and where we're going."
The top five teams at the Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships from May 25-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
Michigan State certainly won't be a favorite in its Regional, but along with the other Big Ten teams in the field, there is an advantage. The Spartans are familiar with the Ohio State course, having played a tournament there just two weeks ago, prior to the conference tournament.
Michigan State is led by senior Michael Sharp, with four top-10 finishes this season and a scoring average of 72.55, and sophomore Kaleb Johnson, both of whom were second-team All-Big Ten selections.
There also is Canton's James Piot, who was Big Ten freshman of the year. He averaged 73.42 this season.
"We've recruited him since the eighth grade," Lubahn said of Piot. "He's one of the biggest commitments in program history, and I actually challenged him a year ago to be freshman of the year.
"For him to come in and roll with this new situation and perform like he did was special. This is just the beginning for this kid."
Michigan State's coaches and most of the team gathered Wednesday at the golf center on south campus to watch the Selection Show, while two team members were in class.
Seeing the Spartans' name come up was especially special for fifth-year senior captain Charlie Green, a former Detroit Catholic Central star "whose career's over if our name doesn't come up," Lubahn said.
"Seeing his face is why I do this."
It was a bit of up-and-down season for Michigan State, which wasn't totally unexpected, after graduating a couple stars a year ago.
A seventh-place finish in the Big Ten championships, after sitting in 10th place after the first round, was key in getting the NCAA bid.
Michigan, no surprise, missed out, by senior Kyle Mueller, one of the top-ranked collegiate golfers in the country, was one of 45 individuals to make the NCAA Championships.
He also will compete in the Columbus Regional. He won five individual titles in his Michigan career, and as a senior he averaged a career-best 69.80 scoring average, with 20 sub-par rounds.
These are sad days at Eastern Michigan, especially for the four athletic programs that have been axed because of budget cuts.
One of those programs, softball, at least had a reason to smile Wednesday night. In the final home game of the program's history, Eastern Michigan scored a 7-6 walk-off victory over Oakland.
Senior Trisha Trujillo's bloop single drove in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning of a doubleheader, after sophomore Sam Isaly led off with a double and sophomore Ariana Chretien (Walled Lake Northern) followed with a single to put runners in the corner.
Trujillo, a pitcher by trade, came up with the big hit in just her seventh career plate appearance.
Oakland won the first game, 3-0.
Men's wrestling and swimming and diving and women's tennis are the other Eastern Michigan programs being cut, to save the department $2.4 million.
This and that
■ The NAIA men's and women's NCAA lacrosse championships are next week at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. A top story line is 20-0 Madonna, the top seed on the men's side after finishing 1-11 last season. Siena Heights also is in the men's bracket.
The women's bracket features Siena Heights and Lawrence Tech.
■ Quite a baseball game in Kalamazoo on Wednesday, when Western Michigan beat Northwestern, 26-15. The Broncos scored 15 runs in a fourth inning that lasted between 30 and 40 minutes, by head coach Billy Gernon's estimation. The 26 runs are two shy of WMU's record. Nate Grys (Madison Heights) went 3-for-5 with two homers, including a grand slam, and seven RBIs.
■ The annual Wayne State summer baseball camp is June 25-29, and is open to kids ages 7 to 18. The camp will feature instruction from select members of the Detroit Tigers, as well as former Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones. For details, email baseball coach Ryan Kelley at email@example.com.
■ Breaking bats is commonplace in MLB. Those are wood bats. But in college? That's like a unicorn sighting. Well, Oakland saw the unicorn Tuesday, with Brittney Miller (Plymouth) shattering her aluminum bat during a doubleheader with Detroit Mercy.
■ Western Michigan men's tennis, set to play Notre Dame in the NCAAs at Michigan next week, dominated the Mid-American Conference awards, with German senior Maik Steiner earning player of the year and Dave Morin coach of the year. Jannik Opitz, a sophomore from Germany, also made first-team.
■ Detroit Mercy senior Charlie Hayes (Utica Eisenhower) and sophomore Alex Akins made first-team All-MAAC in lacrosse.
■ Michigan sophomore midfielder Molly Garrett earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in lacrosse.