"I could not be more proud of the effort our guys gave today," head coach Sam Dunning said. "We knew we had to play exceptionally well to advance, but the team turned it up a notch when it mattered most."
Top-ranked and defending NCAA Division II national champion Barry University carded a final-round 284 to capture the 2014 NCAA Division II Men's Golf South/Southeast Regional on Wednesday at Savannah Quarters Country Club in Pooler, Ga.
The Bucs overcame a two-stroke deficit on the final day to notch the victory with a three-day 4-over-par 868 total, six strokes better than second-round leader and No. 6-ranked Nova Southeastern (874). No. 2-ranked USC Aiken and No. 8-ranked and host Armstrong each finished the tournament with 876 totals to tie for third, while No. 4-ranked Lynn finished fifth with am 877 total.
Delta State played its way into the National Championship field with a stellar 12-under-par round of 276 on Wednesday, the best single round of the regional, to tie for sixth with an 881. No. 11 North Alabama also tied for sixth with an 881, claiming the final national championships berth out of the regional.
Individually, Florida Southern's Tim Crouch shot a one-under-par 71 on Wednesday to claim medalist honors with a three-day six-under-par 210 total, one stroke better than Saint Leo's Ryan Gendron, who finished with a 211 score. Both players will advance to the NCAA Division II Men's Golf National Championships in Allendale, Mich., on May 19-23 out of the South/Southeast Regional, joining the top seven teams in the field.
Delta State's Brad Thornton, Reed Lindsey and Chad Cupples all recorded under par performances on Wednesday to push the Statesmen into the national field for the first time in nine seasons.
Thornton, a junior from Lucedale, carded a 67 in the final round for the lowest score of the day. The former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer finished tied for 21st with a 221 (80-74-67).
Lindsey also finished tied for 21st and was a single stroke off of Thornton on Wednesday with a 68. The sophomore from Ripley also carded rounds of 78 and 75 en route to a 221.
DSU's lone senior Cameron Thomas finished with a score of 222 to place 28th overall. The Oxford native shot rounds of 77, 73 and 72 on the challenging course.
Former Marshall Academy standout Zach Pritchett closed the event with a 226 in a tie for 41st. The New Albany native was remarkably consistent with rounds of 76, 75 and 75.
The biggest finish of the South/Southeast Regional belonged to Cupples. The junior from Southaven shaved 12 strokes off his second round 81 to finish with a 69 Wednesday. His three-round total of 227 was good for 52nd overall.
The Statesmen will return to Cleveland today and will begin immediate preparations for the NCAA event.
Delta State will begin play at The Meadows Golf Club in Allendale, Michigan, on May 19. The NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament runs through May 23. Grand Valley State University will serve as the host of this year's tournament.
In DSU's last national finals appearance, three Statesmen finished in the top 40 overall. Clark Richardson finished ninth with a 288 (74-75-68-71). Pier-Andre Roy was tied for 27th after closing the event with 294 (75-72-72-75) and Kevin Jones' 297 (77-77-68-75) was tied for 40th.