Updated: May 30, 2013 3:24PM
For the first time in program history, the Valparaiso University men’s golf team is headed to the NCAA Tournament after posting a team score of 294 on Sunday to edge Cleveland State by four strokes and win the Horizon League Championship at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
The Crusaders finished with three-round total of 884.
“We had five tournaments this year that we were leading going into the final round,” Valparaiso head coach David Gring said. “This was one of the three we won and the most important.”
Junior Thomas Wettstein recorded a 2-under par round of 70 on Sunday to take medalist honors by four shots over Cleveland State’s Andrew Bailey. Wettstein finished with a three-round total of 214 for his first career medalist honor.
Wettstein made five birdies in his final round, including four on the back nine. He birdied all four par-5s and three of the last five holes, including birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.
“We played the last nine holes in 4-under par,” Gring said. “We played very hard down the stretch, and the guys showed determination to close the round and tournament well.”
Junior Kyle Henning made three birdies on his round, all coming on the back nine to shoot 75 and finish tied for fifth with a total of 223.
By finishing in the top-seven, both Wettstein and Henning made the all-tournament team.
Senior Austin Gaugert finished tied for 12th with total of 226. Fifth-year senior Brad Winters fired a final round 76 to finish tied for 14th with a total of 228. He made two birdies on the back nine on Sunday.
“Our five seniors represent the first graduating class since the golf program was reinstated four years ago,” Gring said. “The victory today is a team championship.”
Valparaiso will compete in one of six NCAA regionals starting on May 16. The Crusaders will learn which location they will be sent to when pairings are announced at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 6.