April 20, 2015
After an 11th place finish to start the spring at the St. Edwards Invitational in Austin, Texas, the UCCS men’s golf team has switched their mentality into high gear, swinging their way to top finishes.
For the next two tournaments the Mountain Lions traveled to San Diego and Vallejo, Calif. Here the men lived up to their potential, finishing second in the SoCal Intercollegiate and sixth in the Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout.
Senior Patrick Skakel took the initiative in the second tournament, tallying a 71 on the third day. Skakel believes the team knows how talented they are; they just need to put it all together.
“We know what we are capable of,” he said. “If we work harder than anyone else, we can be right up there contending for a national title. We expect ourselves to win the RMAC.”
Teammate Stephen Cook said that he and the other two seniors are just trying to make the most of the moment, while competing at a high level.
“It being one of the last years [with the seniors], we have to put all we have into the season because we aren’t going to do it again,” he said. “We want to really play well for each other because it’s the last chance we got.”
In his ninth season as head coach, Phil Trujillo has seen the Mountain Lions climb to one of the top Division II golf programs. On April 3, UCCS was announced as the number three team in the south central region, just behind fellow RMAC school Western New Mexico.
At the Mustang Intercollegiate April 6-7, the Mountain Lions finished second out of 16 teams on the first day, leading to an overall fourth place finish.
Trujillo is confident in his team.
“We are in a good place, starting to build momentum at the perfect time,” he said. “The team is playing well together and we’re very close to putting it together. It just takes time in our climate.”
“It’s a bit of a disadvantage for us,” he continued. “The teams that we compete against, all start playing in February due to their climate conditions. We’re one of the top teams in the nation and we have to compete against the other top teams and we’re the only one in a cold climate region.”
Skakel and Cook understand their role as seniors.
“I try to be a role model at workouts and practice just trying to show those guys what they should be doing and don’t take anything for granted,” said Skakel. “Work hard and you will see the results.”
“I just try to get the [underclassmen] to believe in themselves more,” said Cook. “I see players on the range, that are ranked nationally, and I tell them, ‘they’re not doing anything different than you are.’”
The RMAC Championships are April 20-21 in Goodyear, Ariz.