Paulsell, Busters golf look to make jump at NJCAA Championships
By ADAM HOLT
In its first year after being revived in the fall of 2011, the Garden City Community College men's golf team qualified for the NJCAA National Championship. The Broncbusters finished last, but Will Paulsell tied for eighth and was a second-team All-American.
This spring, the Busters are back at nationals, with a simple goal of improving on 2012's finish. The tournament is being held at The Rawls Course in Lubbock, Texas, and runs from Tuesday through Friday.
"We want to move up, just keep making improvements in the program," first-year head coach Phil Terpstra said. "I think we will move up. How far? I don't know. We've been close to catching Hutch, and close to catching Johnson. And maybe if we can do that, who knows where we can end up."
For Paulsell, it will be a tall task to become a two-time All-American. But the sophomore, who signed to play at Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla., next fall, is up for it.
"I'm excited, I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It's going to be hard to top last year's performance. I've gotta just go out there and play the best I can, and whatever happens, happens."
Paulsell has been one of the most consistent Busters this season, as evidenced by the fact he has the lowest scoring average on the team, and he won a KJCCC tournament this spring. The Borger, Texas, native's finish at last year's national tournament drew interest from Oral Roberts, and he signed to play there on April 17.
Simply knowing what's next is a big deal for Paulsell.
"It's a total relief," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure because I know where I'm going to be next year. I'm gonna try at nationals, obviously, but just knowing that I can still go somewhere after that — like, there's a couple kids on our team that don't know what they're doing next year. And the pressure for them is going to be surreal."
Maybe the best thing for the Busters is simply that they're not playing at Sand Creek Station in Newton, where the KJCCC Championships and District III tournament were held. At districts, the conditions deteriorated over the final two days, with wind gusts up to 30 mph wreaking havoc on the scores across the field.
"I'm done with Sand Creek Station," Paulsell joked. "I don't think I ever want to go there again.
"That was the hardest course I've ever played in my life in the conditions it was in — with the wind, and where they put the pins, it was almost impossible. Eighty was a good score; 80 was like par."
There isn't a lot of room for error off the tee at Sand Creek Station, and The Rawls will play wider, making up for it with tough greens. Simply having some better weather and more room to spray the ball will be a big relief for Garden City.
"I guarantee you all five of them, when they're walking up to the tee box, are going to be feeling a lot better," Terpstra said.
The greens will be in much better condition at The Rawls, as most of the Kansas courses — Buffalo Dunes and Southwind, especially — have played very slow, due to the tough spring weather. So putting will be emphasized in the practice round.
"The greens are going to be the toughest part, because the Rawls course is wide open — you can spray it everywhere," Paulsell said. "Courses like that, the greens are usually difficult, and that's what makes the course hard. It's the national tournament, so they're gonna have it playing as hard as it can."
Last year, Garden City only had four golfers at nationals. This year there's more margin for error, and Paulsell's teammates — Zach Dunlap, Trey Fankhouser, Matthew LeGrange and Camrin Nissen — have all had their bright spots this season. Fankhouse and Dunlap have won meets, and Nissen had the low round in the final day of districts to help Garden City qualify for nationals.
Paulsell said this year, experience is on Garden City's side.
"All five of them have done that," Terpstra said. "So we're just gonna need a little of that next week to move up in those standings, and just keep getting the golf program where we want it to go."