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Release date: April 24 , 2006
Harp named Coach of the Year:Team preps for nationals

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University golf coach Tom Harp received a special honor as his team wrapped up its fourth-place finish in the Region VI Golf Tournament last Tuesday. Harp, who has coached the golf team for five years, was named Coach of the Year as voted on by his peers.

              “In our region, this is special because (Oklahoma) Christian is No. 1 in the country, (Oklahoma) City is the four-time defending national champion and Texas Wesleyan is fifth or sixth in the country,” Harp said. “For me to get this honor means a lot.”

              It is the second time Harp has been named Coach of the Year. In 2003, region coaches voted to abolish a standing rule stating that the coach of the team that wins the regional tournament would be named Coach of the Year in order to vote Harp in as the honored coach.

              Harp’s second trophy validates what has been Wayland’s best golf season since the program began in 1995. The team has posted the lowest average round in team history and shot a single-round record 274 in Phoenix a few weeks ago with two rounds of 68 and two 69s. The Pioneers had to throw out a round of 72.

              “We used to never even find a 72,” Harp said. “Shooting a 72 was a dream. And now we throw out a 72.”

              Based on their success and rankings this season, the Pioneers should receive an invitation to the national tournament May 16-19 in Olathe, Kan., marking the fourth straight trip for the team. Harp said he should find out for sure during the first week of May.

              “I’m making plans accordingly,” he said.

              The Pioneers will have a few weeks off and away from competition while waiting for the tournament. Harp said the time will still be fairly hectic for the team as the players must focus on final exams. After finals, two players, Kevin Stinson and Jeff Dagg, will drive home to British Columbia, Canada, where they will spend a couple of days, then fly back in order to get in a practice round with the team prior to leaving for Olathe. Michael Martinson, Tyler DeHay and J.J. Brumley will round out the five who will compete in the national tournament.

              Harp said he couldn’t ask for five stronger players.

              “For the first time ever in my history as a coach, every guy on the team has led the team in a tournament,” Harp said. “Usually, you just have two or three guys who always finish on the top of your team and the fourth and fifth man struggle to just kind of help out for a couple of rounds. But we don’t have anything like that. Each one of our five guys has been the low man on our team.

              “This team is so good and so talented. We are definitely one of the strongest teams in the country.”

              And Harp hopes to prove that at nationals.