Utah Valley University distanced itself from third-place Oral Roberts but couldn't catch tournament champion UNLV as it placed second at the Jackrabbit Invitational. Tuesday's final round also saw UVU junior Brayden Eriksen finish second on the individual leaderboard, matching the best result of his career.
"Conditions were brutal today," Utah Valley head coach Chris Curran said. "The guys fought hard and put together a fine round. They have been playing with a lot of passion."
After a team score of 289 on Tuesday, the Wolverines left Primm with a total score of 865. That figure was 20 strokes back of UNLV but 22 better than ORU in third place. Utah State (898) finished in fourth after a 292 on Tuesday while Youngstown State (899) squeaked into the top five after Tuesday's 399. The Penguins just edged SIU-Edwardsville, which came in sixth behind an even 900 for the week.
The Rebels, ranked 23rd in the NCAA, nabbed their third tournament victory of the season and second in their last three tournaments.
With the second-place result, UVU matches a program record for most top-five finishes in a year. The Wolverines now have six top-five finishes in nine tournaments this season, tying the 2011-12 squad's season-long mark.
Meanwhile, Eriksen (211) fired an even-par 72 on Tuesday, maintaining his second place position entering the day. The reigning WAC Golfer of the Week passed UNLV's Carl Jonson who began the round in first place but was caught by another Rebel. Kurt Kitayama carded a Tuesday-best 68 to surge to the top and claim the individual title.
Only three shots back of Eriksen was fellow UVU junior Michael Dart (214) who came away with a career-best fifth-place finish. Dart shot a UVU-low 69 on Tuesday, moving into the top five for the first time in his career. JT Timmons (220) finished in a tie for 12th, and Preston Richards (221) also finished among the top 15 on the leaderboard, tying for 14th. Corey Eccles rounded out UVU's five bags on the week, finishing in a tie for 32nd behind a 227.
"Brayden finished runner-up for the third time in his career today," Curran said. "I know that he will break through soon. Also, Mike's 69 was the lowest of his career. He finished strong with two birdies. I'm proud of the way both those guys played this week."
UVU will have nearly a month off before it closes the regular season at the El Macero Classic in California. That tournament gets underway on April 18 and represents the Wolverines' final tune up before the WAC Championships which begins May 2 in Henderson, Nev.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.