Seawolves Drive Their Way to the Top

men's golf teamHead Coach Val Verhunce (front left) stands proudly with his team. Front row: (left to right) Val Verhunce, Jarin Todd, Chris Galvin, Patrick Bauer. Back row: (left to right) Spencer Shishido, Bobby Fox, Jacob OÕKeefe, Kyle Hopkins

The Sonoma State men’s golf team took another huge step forward in 2008. Already a competitive, nationally-ranked team with a pair of All-Americans, the ’08 version of the Seawolves surpassed just about any expectations for such a young program.

To fully understand the Seawolves’ incredible ascent to the top of Division II golf, one must take a quick look back. In 2003, there was no SSU golf team. In 2004, a first-year team took their lumps, finishing seventh in the conference tournament.

Fast forward to 2008. Just four years after that first team hit the links, the Seawolves are conference (CCAA) champions, west region champions, and one of just two teams to have been ranked No. 1 in the nation this year.

As usual, team success has gone hand-in-hand with individual honors.

Jarin ToddJunior Jarin Todd, CCAA Player of the Year two years running.

A year ago, as a sophomore, Jarin Todd (right) became the first student-athlete in Sonoma State history to earn national Player of the Year honors. This year, he became the first to do it in back-to-back years as he continued his utter dominance of collegiate golf. In fact, only one other golfer in the 20-year history of the Jack Nicklaus Award (golf’s national player of the year award) has won it more than once—Phil Mickelson, one of the top golfers in the world today.

Todd sported an average round of 70.3 and carded individual round scores of 62 and 63 during the season. A junior from Redmond, Washington, Todd has brought immeasurable exposure to the campus as he has appeared in countless newspapers and national magazines.

“Having one great golfer is nice, but it is not enough to win a championship. To bring home a trophy, you need depth. And the 2008 Seawolves were deeper than any squad in the country as all five members of the starting lineup earned All-West Region honors,” says Brandon Bronzan, SSU’s Assistant Athletics Director.

Freshman Patrick Bauer was named CCAA Freshman of the Year and became just the second student-athlete in school history to earn All-America honors in his first year. A trio of seniors— Kyle Hopkins, Chris Galvin, and Jacob O’Keefe, were impressive as well, as every starting golfer had at least one tournament in which he finished in the top five.

Seawolves display CCAA Championship bannerSeawolves display the CCAA Championship banner that will hang in the University’s gym.

For his efforts in guiding the Seawolves, head coach Val Verhunce was named the CCAA and West Region Coach of the Year.

In addition to their conference and regional crowns, the Seawolves won three other events and finished in the top two in nine of their first eleven events.

As great a season as the Seawolves had, they know there is one thing missing from their resumé, a national championship. That will be the goal in 2009 as the Seawolves hit the links again with the ultimate prize in mind.