Golf tees up for second half of the season

Quin Norris Senior Sports Writer [email protected]

The North Alabama men’s golf team is about to begin the spring half of their 2019-2020 season. When looking back on the beginning of the season, the team performed well finishing around the middle of the pack in two of their four invitationals along with a second-place finish at their own invitational in Killen.

 “It was a decent start to the year that leaves us with room for improvement heading into the second half of our season,” said head coach Cullen Carstens. “The team has seen solid performance from all of the guys, but especially from our senior Jackson Wedgeworth and freshman Cedric Otten who have been our top performers this season.” 

Cedric is part of a trend often seen in collegiate golf that has now become part of UNA’s team as he represents the international students. Cedric hails from Dusseldorf, Germany and is a part of five freshman and sophomore students on the team who, according to Coach Carstens, represent the team well on the green, in the classroom and in their personal lives.

However, the star of the team is senior Jackson Wedgeworth. Jackson is from Soso, Mississippi, which is roughly five hours from Florence. Jackson notes the significance of the Lion’s campus and the support the coaches provide.

“I wanted the opportunity to play Division-I golf,” said Wedgeworth. “After touring the campus and seeing the city of Florence I knew UNA is where I was meant to be. Not to mention the strong coaching staff we have here at North Alabama.”

Wedgeworth has been a steady improving player in his time with the team. Last season he finished with the highest stroke average on the team with a 73.5. Since then, he has improved his game by an average of 2 strokes, pulling in a 71.5 stroke average for the fall this season. 

“I have never been one to have drastic improvement over the offseason,” said Wedgeworth. “My improvement is due to a strong coaching staff and reliable teammates to help me steadily improve my game.” 

On Feb. 9, the team will travel to Coto de Caza, Calif. to participate in the Orange County Collegiate tournament. The team and coaches are anticipating this competition for two huge reasons that will impact the scenery of their games. 

Firstly, they will have an opportunity to compete against new faces and different schools than our typical southeastern regional opponents, presenting a new challenge. Secondly, they will be given a chance to escape the inconstant weather that comes with the southeastern United States at this time of the year. 

In 2019, the Lion’s finished sixth overall in the conference, the team’s goal now is to improve from last years ASUN conference tournament. Coach Carstens was impressed with the teams showing, but knows that despite the challenge the conference presents in Division-I, the team can show major improvement and compete with the conference’s elite. 

“We are all looking forward to the conference tournament,” said Wedgeworth. “We had a solid round last year where we beat all other teams in that one round. With the hardworking guys that have returned from last season and the new talent we have; I know we can have a strong performance this year.”

The team will be hosting the North Alabama Spring Classic at the RTJ Golf Trail in Muscle Shoals on March 23rd and 24th. This will be the second time hosting this season in the Shoals area. The Lion’s made trips across the country to places such as Calif., FL, MS and LA. This provides the student body a chance to come out and support the team as they finish up the spring season heading into their conference tournament in GA.