Story by Jason Strickland, Sports Editor
With the four top-ranked teams in Division II as some of the competition coming up for the No. 10 Mules golf team, Central will likely have to step up its game.
The Mules are coming off a second-place finish last week at the Missouri Intercollegiate tournament and a third-place finish Tuesday at Pittsburg State.
The Mules lost to the only two ranked teams they have faced this season at the Pittsburg State tournament – No. 7 Central Oklahoma and No. 25 Washburn.
At the Brickyard Invitational in Indianapolis Monday and Tuesday, the Mules will compete against at least five ranked teams, including defending national champion No. 1 Nova Southeastern, No. 2 Barry, No. 3 Chico State, No. 4 Cal State Stanislaus and No. 16 Indianapolis.
“I think it will really give these young guys an eye opener,” head coach Tim Poe said. “It will give them some perspective of how good some of these teams are. It will kind of give us a feel of how good we are.”
Poe said he thinks there could be over a dozen top 25 teams in the field, but he expects his team to play well if a couple of issues can be resolved.
“I expect us to go over there and make a good showing,” he said. “There were some shining moments throughout the last couple of weeks. I think if we can just eliminate our mental errors and sharpen up our short game this week, I think we will be okay. That’s really the main area I see we need to work on.”
The Mules will not only battle some of the best teams in the country, they will battle the course at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Club. The course is famous for having holes 7-10 inside the 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 2010 Mules team got the experience of playing the course since the NCAA-II National Championships were at nearby Sagamore Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind.
Poe said they went to the course the day before the national championships and got to see Indianapolis 500 practice while playing the course. He said he remembers not being able to hear a car on the other side of the track because of the track’s size.
“The thing that is amazing about the whole deal is how big the track is,” he said. “When you get four holes inside a race track you’re thinking it’s going to be crammed, but it’s not even close. Those four holes look small inside that track, so you get a real sense of just how big that race track is when you get inside there.”
He added that one of his favorite parts of coaching is getting to see famous places around the country.
“To get to see a historic landmark, it’s one of the neat things about playing college golf and coaching over the years, getting to see some pretty neat places, and this will definitely be one of them,” he said. “Last year we got to see Churchill Downs when we went to the national championships. Over the years it’s been a really neat experience to get to see different places around the country and get to see things like this.”
Even though it will be a member able experience for the players, Poe said it will also be one of the most difficult courses the team will play at this season.
Poe said he has not made his decision on who will make the trip to Indianapolis. He will only be able to take five players since the field will not have enough spots to take players to compete as individuals.
At the first tournament, freshman Travis Mays and Robby Hughey, sophomore Cy Moritz, and juniors Mike Ehlers and Mason Good were the team of five with senior Jason Vann competing as an individual.
Since Vann placed 21 spots ahead of Good in that event, Poe decided to have Vann compete on the team and Good compete as an individual at Pittsburg State.
Good tied Mays for eighth overall and first among Mules players, while Vann tied for 28th.
“I put Jason back in there because of how they finished down there [Missouri Intercollegiate] and good experience,” he said. “His experience last year, that’s the reason I put him in there…I just have to sit down and look at it and kind of go with my gut who I feel like will play well over there.”