An era of Oglethorpe men's golf came to an end on May 17 when now-alumnus Jacob Arnett rolled in a putt on his 72nd hole of the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Kentucky, to secure a seventh-place finish for the Stormy Petrels and a fourth-place finish and All-America first team honors for himself. It marked the 14th top 10 finish at the national tournament in program history.
The top 10 finish marked the culmination of a comeback of sorts for the program under Arnett and fellow new alumnus Kyle Shealy. The Petrels missed the cut at the 2017 NCAA tournament, then failed to qualify for the 2018 event altogether (though Arnett qualified as an individual and finished tied for 24th). Things weren't looking much better for the Petrels to start the 2018-19 campaign, as they fell to 53rd in the nation according to the Golfstat team rankings (which are a major factor in the distribution of at-large spots for the national tournament) as 2018 came to a close.
Oglethorpe bounced back in a big way in the spring, though, finishing no worse than sixth in any event leading up to the NCAA tournament and securing their third SAA championship. The top 10 finish at the national tournament culminated an outstanding spring for the Petrels, but now they'll have to reload without their pair of graduating All-SAA performers.
The Petrels do have a solid core of upperclassmen returning, though, including two who earned All-SAA honors in their own right in 2019. Sophomore Justin Rickerson, who garnered first-team All-SAA honors last season, and junior Anthony DeRosa, who's earned second-team All-SAA status twice, will join fellow returners Kenny Park (junior), Isley McClure (sophomore), Sean Fromme (senior) and Walker Bottomley (junior). Rickerson, DeRosa, Park and McClure all have NCAA tournament experience on their resumes. That nucleus should combine with a stellar incoming class which includes Britt Pero (Dunedin, Fla.), Connor Murphy (Land O' Lakes, Fla.), Ned Narula (Bangkok), Michael O'Sullivan (Inverness, Ill.), and Jake Allstun (Dalton) to craft a quality, competitive lineup every week.
"The keys to our season will be quickly elevating our maturity and patience levels," said Oglethorpe Director of Golf Jim Owen. "This group of returnees and freshmen have the games and skill sets. We now have to translate it to the course and mix in a healthy does of patience. I could see a scenario where eight or nine different players rotate in the lineup this fall. We will have a lot of youth on the roster, but we have a number of kids who have played a lot and have a number of college tournaments under their belts."
The schedule is as tough as ever for the Petrels, who historically have one of the top 10 strongest schedules in the country. The fall season opens up with a trip to Greystone Golf Club in Dickson, Tennessee, the site of the SAA Golf Championships in April, for the SAA Fall Preview on Sunday. It will be followed quickly by a trek to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, for the NCAA Division III Fall Preview Sept. 14 and 15 at the PGA National Resort and Spa.
After those two fall previews, the squad will have a moment to catch their breath and recalibrate for 11 days before three more events in as many weeks. The stretch starts Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the prestigious Gordin Collegiate Classic in Columbus, Ohio. A few days after the team returns to Atlanta, Oglethorpe hosts the Oglethorpe-Royal Lakes Fall Invitational at Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club Oct. 7 and 8 in nearby Flowery Branch.
The Petrels spend their fall break in Miramar Beach, Florida, Oct. 13-15 for the Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The Golfweek event will draw yet another national field for the Petrels to test themselves against. The fall season will end with an individuals-only event just up the road in Rome at the Chick-fil-A Collegiate Invitational.