NORMAN, OK – With both teams winning different tournaments on opposite sides of the country earlier this week, West Florida and Florida Southern are still the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in Division II men's golf, and they are still separated by just seven points in the poll.
On Tuesday, West Florida won the Las Vegas Desert Classic by 28 shots over second-place Oklahoma Christian while Florida Southern was closing out a 15-shot win at the Panther Invitational in Florida over then-No. 6 Barry. It was the third victory for the Moccasins and head coach Doug Gordin in their last four tournaments, two of which came with West Florida as part of the field. The Argonauts have three wins over the Moccasins this year from earlier in the fall, and they will meet for a sixth time next week at the Southeastern Collegiate hosted by Valdosta State.
Remaining third in the March 9 poll is Nova Southeastern, another team coming off a victory in a recent tournament. The Sharks took first place in the Saint Leo Invitational two weeks after finishing fourth in the Matlock behind Florida Southern, Barry, and West Florida. The Sharks were able to close the gap slightly on Florida Southern in the poll, pulling within 33 points of the Moccasins.
Barry moved up two spots to No. 4 after finishing second in the Panther Invitational, leap-frogging Florida Tech, which placed third as tournament host. Lynn made it five in a row from the Sunshine State Conference by falling from fourth to No. 6. The Knights have not played since the Matlock, but will be joining all of the top-five teams in this week's poll at the Southeastern Collegiate next week.
Completing the top-10 are Columbus State, Newberry (SC), Limestone (SC), and Saint Leo. The Cougars moved up to seventh from No. 11 after winning the Newberry Invitational on February 20. The Wolves of Newberry then turned around and won the Bash at the Beach hosted by Appalachian State this week, allowing them to fall only one spot in the poll to No. 8. Ninth-ranked Limestone also won a tournament in South Carolina this week.
The combination of results over the last three weeks has set up a clash of the country's most powerful teams in Valdosta where all of the top-10 will be meeting Kinderlou Forest beginning Sunday for the Southeastern Collegiate. Six of those teams are coming off victories in other tournaments.
Rollins gives the Sunshine State Conference seven teams in the poll, checking in at No. 13, the same place the Tars held in February.
The Moccasins are headed to Valdosta looking for their third straight tournament victory, something they haven't done since winning the conference, regional, and national tournaments in 2000. They won the Southeastern Collegiate two years ago over many of the same teams and finished fifth last year. So far this spring, the Mocs have won the Matlock Collegiate Classic with a score of -29, and finished 15 shots ahead of the field at Florida Tech's Panther Invitational with a -10.
John Coultas won the Matlock individual title with a near-record score of -15, and John VanDerLaan did set the tournament record in the Panther Invitational with a -9. Both golfers were in the top-five of both tournaments. VanDerLaan is now ranked No. 1 in the Golfstat individual rankings, and Coultas is No. 6. West Florida is the only other team with two golfers in the top-10.
Michael VanDerLaan, Jacob Penny, and Christian Anderson are also listed among the nation's best individual golfers in Division II, and Chase Ibbotson has returned to the lineup in the last two tournaments. After closing out the Matlock with a 69, Ibbotson tied for 20th at the Panther Invitational. Anderson had a season-best 14th-place finish at Florida Tech this week, and Penny has been in the top-20 in four of his five complete tournaments this season. Michael VanDerLaan had four top-20s during the fall and played the Panther Invitational as an individual.
For the complete NCAA Division II poll, click here.