College golf: Dalton State men win conference for fifth straight year

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The Dalton State College men's golf team won their fifth straight Southern States Athletic Conference championship Wednesday. Pictured from left are Zach Womack, Ben Rebne, Matthew Cleary, Sport Allmond and Eli Hendricks.

For the fifth straight year, the Dalton State College men's golf team won the Southern State Athletic Conference Championship Wednesday at RTJ at Cambrian Ridge in Greenville, Alabama.

The No. 4-ranked Roadrunners were the only team to finish under par for the three-day tournament, shooting a combined score of 860 (-4) after the team finished with a round of 287 (-1) on Wednesday.

To be shooting the best golf they have collectively all season, Dalton State coach Ben Rickett said he is pleased with how his golfers came together.

Dalton State placed 10 strokes ahead of second-place finisher William Carey University, which finished at 870 (+6).

"We were consistent across the board, but the most important one was the first day," he said. "We were really able to build a lead we could hold on to, but they know when someone has a bad day they are covered. It has rotated all season, too, which is why I think they really feed off each other. It's cool to see."

Individually for the Roadrunners, junior Ben Rebne placed first in the tournament with a combined score of 208 (-2). He was awarded conference player of the year, adding to the accolades for Dalton State, which has earned that honor for each of the past five years.

"Montgomery has really treated us well," Rickett said. "The cool thing about Ben is that he has to fill some big shoes and he's done a really good job of that. He had come close multiple times and winning our first tournament of the spring needed to happen for him. When he got him that win, he's been a different person since then -- just so much more relaxed."

Zach Womack finished tied for 10th for the Roadrunners at 220 (+4) with a round of 70 (-2) on Wednesday to take conference freshman of the year. Sport Allmond was tied for fourth after Wednesday's round, finishing even for the tournament at 216. Matthew Cleary placed seventh with a combined score of 217 (+1).

Rickett said the feeling driving home from Montgomery was a light-hearted one, but knows the job is not finished. Dalton State is off until May 21 when they begin the four-day NAIA Men's National Championship at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona.

The Roadrunners finished second in last's year national tournament and have never won as a team despite having two individual national titles.

"It's all part of the job, but obviously they are pleased," Rickett said. "The hardest thing for us is to hold is the peak. The chemistry of the group is goofy, but it's something that is a positive in a team environment. I'd much prefer it this way over more serious, but they still all want to win."

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