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Austin Miller
Courtesy: Eric Francis

Men's Golf Picked Seventh in Pre-Championship Poll

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Creighton men's golf team has been picked seventh in the upcoming 2012 State Farm MVC Men's Golf Championship. The 2012 State Farm MVC Championship will be played Monday-Tuesday, April 30-May 1, at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. Teams will play 36 holes on Monday and conclude with 18 holes on Tuesday.

Tournament host Wichita State is the unanimous favorite, receiving all nine first-place votes and 81 total points. Missouri State is second in the poll, and the Bears have all nine second-place tallies for 72 total points.

The Shockers have been the league's most dominant program for more than a decade, finishing first or second (with 10 titles) in each of the last 15 seasons.

This year, Wichita State golfers hold the top five spots in the league in stroke average, and the Shockers are led by Player of the Year candidate Rafael Becker. Becker tops the Shockers with a stroke average of 71.06, while teammate Hunter Sparks ranks second in the MVC with his 71.78 figure. Louis Cohen Boyer of WSU is one of the league's top newcomers, as the freshman sports a stroke average of 72.22 in his first year with WSU.

Missouri State's Will Hogan and Daily Young are a formidable duo. Young leads the Bears with a 73.61 stroke average and Hogan is right behind at 74.52. If the Bears finish as high as their second-place prediction it would mark the highest finish for Missouri State since taking second place in 2000. The Bears finished third last year while their lone league title since joining the MVC was in 1993.

Meanwhile, Illinois State figures to provide a challenge to both Wichita State and Missouri State, as the Redbirds are picked third in this year's poll with 56 points. The Redbirds, led by Ray Kralis, have been one of the league's upper echelon programs as well, having finished in the top three in each of the past 11 seasons, with three team titles during that span.

Evansville is picked fourth with 53 points, narrowly edging Southern Illinois (45) in the voting. UNI is slated for sixth, with 39 points, while Creighton (29), Drake (17) and Bradley (13) round out the pre-championship poll.

Creighton's top performer this year has been Kevin Stanek, who averages 75.6 strokes per round. He's shot par or better in eight of 25 rounds this year, and owns three top-five finishes. Four other Bluejay golfers average a between 77-78 strokes per round this season, a group including Austin Miller, Collin Craft, John Rasmussen and Johnny Spellerberg.

During the season, the league sported seven team titles, including five by Wichita State. Seven different MVC golfers took home medalist honors during 2011-12, including multiple first-place titles by Becker, Sparks, Young and Southern Illinois' Jake Erickson.

Prairie Dunes Country Club was designed by Perry Maxwell and opened in 1937. In the vision of the Carey family and Perry Maxwell, Prairie Dunes has become a renowned course and has played home to several major events including: U.S Women’s Amateur, Curtis Cup Match, U.S. Mid- Amateur, U.S. Women’s Open and also hosted the 2006 U.S. Senior Open. Prairie Dunes was honored in 2005 by Golf Digest as being named one of America’s greatest Golf Courses.

No.  Team (First-Place Votes)   Points 
1 Wichita State (9) 81
2 Missouri State 72
3 Illinois State 56
4 Evansville 53
5 Southern Illinois 45
6 UNI 39
7 Creighton 29
8 Drake  17
9 Bradley  13
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