Men's Golf Picked Eighth in MVC Pre-Championship Poll

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Kevin Stanek
Courtesy: Eric Francis

Wichita State is the favorite to win the 2011 State Farm MVC Men's Golf Championship.  The Shockers received five first-place votes and 76 total points to edge Missouri State (three first-place tallies and 71 points) in the voting.  Next week's tournament (April 25-26) is at the par-72, 7,036-yard layout at The Club at Porto Cima in Sunrise Beach, Mo.

Creighton is eighth in the poll, just one point behind Southern Illinois seventh place.

Teams will play 36 holes, beginning with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 25.  The tournament concludes with 18 holes on Tuesday.  Teams will tee off holes 1 and 10 on Tuesday, beginning at 8 a.m.

 Rank  Team (First-Place Votes)  Total
1.  Wichita State (5)    76
2.  Missouri State (3)    71
3.  Illinois State    61
4.  UNI    52
5.  Evansville    45
6.  Drake (1)    41
7.  Southern Illinois    25
8.  Creighton    24
9.  Bradley     9

The Shockers have been the league's most dominant program in the past decade, finishing first or second (with nine titles) in each of the last 14 seasons.   The Shockers are led by a trio of players who rank in the Top 10 in the league in stroke average including Player of the Year candidate Rafael Becker.  Becker tops the Shockers with a stroke average of 72.72, while teammate Hunter Sparks ranks third in the MVC with his 73.46 figure.  Calvin Pearson is one of the league's top newcomers, as the freshman sports a stroke average of 73.89 in his first year with WSU.

Missouri State's Will Hogan and Daily Young are a formidable duo.  Hogan leads the Bears with a 73.03 stroke average and Young is right behind at 74.16.  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 sixth 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 61 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 10 seasons, with three team titles during that span.

UNI is picked fourth in the poll with 52 points, narrowly edging Evansville (45) and Drake (41).  Southern Illinois is tabbed for seventh with 25 points, followed by Creighton (24), and Bradley (9).

During the season, the league sported five team titles, including two each by Evansville and Missouri State.  Five different MVC golfers took home medalist honors during 2010-11, including Will Hogan, Ben Freeman of Drake, Michael Sainz of Evansville, Kevin Stanek of Creighton, and Travis Kreiter of Bradley.

This year marks the first State Farm MVC Championship at the Lake of the Ozarks since 1994 when Tulsa took home the MVC crown.  The tournament was played at the Lake four times in five years from 1990-94.  The Golf Club at Porto Cima is a Jack Nicklaus designed facility that opened in 2000. Over the last 10 years Porto Cima has hosted several Missouri Golf Association Championships and also the annual Missouri Intercollegiate. Recently Golf Digest recognized The Club at Porto Cima as the one of the best private golf courses in America.

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