DANIELS, W.Va. - - Senior Ryan Rucinski shot a 71 (-1) and is a tie for fifth overall after the first round of the NCAA Division II National Championship at The Resort at Glade Springs, with the Wildcats in 19th overall after a score of 308 (+20) on Monday afternoon.
The senior led the Wildcats with four birdies and 12 pars on the day, shooting the front nine of the course (started on the 10th hole) at two-under par. He is tied for fifth overall with seven other student-athletes that shot a 71 (-1), with the leader sitting in the clubhouse with a 67 (-5). One player posted a 69 (-3), with two more posting scores of 70 (-2).
Starting on the back nine, Rucinski birdied the par five 12th and par three 13th to get to two-under par through his first four holes. But a bogey on the par four 16th and a double bogey on the par three 17th saw the senior go back to one-over par. He then made the turn and birdied the par four first before birdieing the par four fourth to get to one under on the day. He finished his round with fie straight pars.
Enrique Valverde was the next scorer for the Wildcats, shooting a 77 (+5) for his first round. He birdied the par five 18th to get to two-over par on his first nine holes, but bogeyed holes three and five after the turn. A birdie on the par four fifth put him back to three-over par, but he finished his round with back-to-back bogeys on eight and nine for his 77. He is in a tie for 76th overall after the first day.
Braden McKay came into the clubhouse with an 80 (+8) for the Wildcats, sinking three birdies on his round. He got out to a good start, sinking pars on his first five holes. Three straight bogeys set him back before he birdied the par five 18th to make the turn at two-over par. Back-to-back double bogeys got his front nine off to a slow start, but he birdied the par five fifth and the par four sixth to get back to six-over for his round.
Matthew Kettleson also finished with an 80 (+8) in the first round of the tournament, rounding out the team scoring for the day. His lone birdie came on the par five 18th, making the turn at five-over par. The front nine started with three straight pars before three bogeys down the stretch had him in the clubhouse at 80 (+8). Kettleson and McKay are in a tie for 96th overall after the first round.
Jack Dixon rounded out the Wildcats on the course on Monday, sinking a birdie putt on the par five 12th to get back to one-over par. He then had four straight pars before back-to-back bogeys had him make his turn at three-over par. Dixon then had two double bogeys and a triple bogey on the front nine to come in with an 84 (+12) in the opening round. He is in a tie for 105th overall.
Sixteenth ranked Cal State Monterey Bay leads the tournament with the only under par score on the day of 287 (-1). No. 25 Arkansas Tech and No. 5 Lincoln Memorial are tied for second with identical rounds of 288 (E).
The Wildcats' second round is set to begin at 8:25 a.m. on Tuesday morning. They will again be paired with Cal State Monterey Bay and Ferris State starting from the first tee box.