NORMAN, Okla. – The Florida Southern men's golf team is ranked #2 in the nation in the Bushnell Golfweek Division II Preseason Coaches Poll with schools from the Sunshine State Conference holding down the top four spots in the rankings. The Moccasins trail only defending national champion Saint Leo, and are just ahead of Lynn and Barry. All four schools received at least one first-place vote.
The Moccasins reached the NCAA Division II National Semifinals last year, marking the third time in the last four years they've reached the match play portion of the National Tournament. Head coach Doug Gordin returns four of his five players who participated in the National Tournament, led by junior John Coultas, the 2016 Jack Nicklaus Award winner as the Division II Player-of-the-Year; and 2-time All-American John VanDerLaan, who is also a junior.
Also back from the group that played in last year's National Tournament are sophomores Michael VanDerLaan and Christian Anderson. Five other lettermen return as well, with seniors Levin Hoffmann and Jason Huntington having NCAA postseason experience of their own.
The Moccasins were no worse than fifth in any of their 11 tournaments last year, and were third or higher in seven of them. One of those was at the Division II Championships where they finished stroke play in third place at 13-under.
Saint Leo in the #1 position received 12 of the 19 first-place votes in the poll, with #2 Florida Southern receiving one, #3 Lynn receiving four, and #4 Barry receiving one. The remaining first-place vote went to West Florida, which is #6 in the preseason poll, with Chico State ranked #5. All six of those schools reached at least the national quarterfinals last year, with Chico State finishing as runner-up to Saint Leo.
Rounding out the top-10 are Nova Southeastern at #7, South Carolina-Aiken at #8, Central Missouri at #9, and Cal State-Monterey Bay at #10. Florida Tech was the only other SSC school in the poll, checking in at #24, though Rollins was among those receiving votes.
SSC schools have won the last four Division II National Champions and six of the last 10. Saint Leo, Nova Southeastern, Barry, and Florida Southern are all on that list, and Lynn has twice finished as the national runner-up during that span. Rollins has won a national title as recently as 2002.
Florida Southern's 12 national championships are the most in Division II, with five coming under Gordin.
Florida Southern plays the first of its four fall tournaments September 10-11 at the Rod Myers Invitational hosted by Duke University.
For the complete NCAA Division II preseason poll, click here.