WARWICK, RI – Local knowledge and gritty play allowed the Johnson & Wales University men's golf team to turn in one of the best performances in the history of the GNAC Championship. The Wildcats extended their day-one lead to win the championship at the Valley Country Club.
The Wildcats tallied a two-day total of 601 (297-304), the lowest score in relationship to par in the history of the championship. JWU's 16-stroke victory over host Rhode Island College is the second-largest margin of victory. The 2008 Wildcat squad won by 26 strokes.
The championship is the fifth under head coach Lou Parente and the first since 2009 when the Wildcats won four-straight. Johnson & Wales earns the GNAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. It will be held May 15-18 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.
Leading the way was sophomore Christian Maselli (Exeter, RI) as he claimed medalist honors with a two-day, one-under total of 143. Named GNAC Player of the Year, Maselli is the first player in the history of the tournament to finish under par.
The Wildcats also brought home another award as freshman Ryan Malloy (East Greenwich, RI) earned GNAC Rookie of the Year as the lowest newcomer in the field. He fired rounds of 79 and 75 to finish 10th at 154.
All five JWU players finished inside the top 20. Coming in eighth was sophomore Alex Parente at 153 (70-83). Rookie Claudio Soukamneuth (Cranston, R.I.) cut two strokes off his round one total for a 13th-place 156 (79-77). Also improving by two strokes was fellow freshman Adam Ely (Essex, Vt.) at 158 (80-78) to come in 19th.
JWU only gets a week to relish its victory as the Wildcats will be back on the course October 22 for the NEIGA Championship at the Captains Golf Course.