Cavaliers sit at #5 national preseason golf poll

Cavaliers sit at #5 national preseason golf poll

ALBANY – Darton State College will enter the 2014-2015 golf season ranked No. 5, the Golf Coaches Association of America announced recently in a NJCAA D2 preseason poll. "Most people would assume that finishing 4th place in Division I last year and returning four sophomores might get us a little bit higher preseason ranking, but the teams ahead of us had great years also,” Darton State College head golf coach Gary Hilton said.

Mesa Community College (Ariz.) and Walters State Community College (Tenn.) tied for 1st in the poll. South Mountain Community College (Ariz.) and Mississippi Gulf Coast ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively. "The only real ranking that matters to us is the final one in May so I won’t lose too much sleep over this one,” Hilton said.

His program will begin its spring competition on Monday at the Wallace State Invitational at Cullman Golf Course in Cullman, Ala. The Cavaliers will also play at Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta on Sept. 29, and at Windance County Club in Gulport, Miss., on Oct. 6, followed by the Darton State College Invitational at Stonebridge Golf and Country Club on Oct. 20.

Four sophomores return from the 2013-2014 Cavaliers, who won Region 17 and District IV Championships before placing 4th at the NJCAA D1 Golf Championships at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa. They are Seth Sanders of Macon, and Athens-native Jake O'Bryan, who individually finished Nos. 15 and 18 at the NJCAA tournament, respectively, Joshua Glossop of the UK and Tyler Shamblin of Donalsonville. Hilton added four freshmen to the roster: Tennessee-native Hunter Tidwell, who was 1st Team All-State before graduating Alcoa High School, Ontario-native Conner Watt who placed 3rd in a region championship comprised of 69 member schools in Canada, Bailey Ulp of Suwanee and Harrison Mohr of Lincolnton.

The 2014-2015 season is also going to be Hilton’s first at Darton without former Golf Director Dale Dover, who retired in May after winning three national titles and joining the Golf Coaches Hall of Fame during his stint as head of the Darton golf program. Hilton played a vital role as a coach in Darton’s 2013-2014 season, but it wasn’t his first experience with the Cavalier program. As a student at Darton, the Dawson native was captain of the Cavalier teams from 2000 to 2002 that began the program’s long winning streak of Region 17 Championships, which is still going with 13 consecutive titles.

Pictured: Soph. Jake O'Bryan