Western New Mexico sent four freshmen to Roswell to do battle with the area's junior college teams Saturday. The Mustang B team took third place with freshman Dan Young (Cheshire, England/Eaton Bank HS) finishing second to a former teammate, Russell Lara (El Paso, TX/Burges HS) of Midland. Young fired rounds of 71-66--137 for the runner-up spot but it was Lara who wielded the flashiest light saber in Roswell as he slashed his way to a 12-under tally with rounds of 67 and 65 around NMMI's par 72 layout.
The Mustang Padawans were just a shot back after the opening round after freshman Ben Skinner (Hertfordshire, England/Lorretto Academy) opened with 68 to go along with Brendan Shannon (Silver City, NM/Silver HS)'s 70, Young's 71 and Tom Neve (Epsom, England/Cams Hill School/Merrist College)'s even-par round of 72. That 281 total (-8) is one of the best rounds ever for the Mustangs, but Midland's 280 was a shot better. Midland's cagey coach Master Delnor Poss had the Chaps in hyper-drive the whole afternoon, as they warped into a 279 in the afternoon, sending the Mustang younglings into third with their 290. New Mexico Junior College was second two shots clear of Western. NMMI was fourth and Clarendon was fifth.
Russell Lara (El Paso, TX/Burges HS) was on the WNMU roster last semester, but was red-shirting for the year to gain academic residence. That is not a requirement at the JC level, so Lara will rejoin the Mustangs when his eligiblity is up in Midland.
Daniel Young joined Brendan Shannon (Silver City, NM/Silver HS) this season with posting strong rounds in JC events. Shannon matched Young's runner-up finish in the High Country Shootout in September, and Shannon also opened with an under par round two weeks ago in the New Mexico Collegiate Cup with an impressive 68 around Sierra del Rio before ballooning to a 79 in the afternoon.
Young has been impressive of late as his ball-striking has improved over the Fall season, as has his putting.
Ben Skinner (Hertfordshire, England/Lorretto Academy) also finished the tournament under par to join Young with a T9 finish. His three-under par finish was solid and should propel the talented freshman to a strong Spring season. Tom Neve (Epsom, England/Cams Hill School/Merrist College) (14th) showed a strong effort with his morning 72, but couldn't get the putts to fall in the afternoon round and shot 74. Neve had a great set of qualifying rounds, so his game is close, so he should improve in his next event.
"This is a good start for the kids this Spring. We sent out a B team, and they shot under par ... that's a great sign of what these kids can accomplish over the next few years," said WNMU Coach Kent Beatty. "It's a very good group. They work hard, are good students, and have great attitudes ... which is exactly what we look for when we bring them in," Beatty continued.
The Mustangs will start the season next week in Austin as they face their toughest field of the season in the St. Edwards Invitational. Division II's top team Barry University is entered as well as the defending NCAA champion Sharks from Nova Southestern will make their way to Austin. Western will have four freshmen and junior David Metz (Tucson, AZ/Canyon del Oro HS) on the course as the Spring season officially starts.