Thomasville, NC- The Belmont Abbey College men’s golf team has been honored by being selected the 2008 Conference Carolina’s preseason coaches poll favorite.  The Abbey returns with two Division II All Americans in sophomores Connor Tomlinson and Joe Campbell along with veteran experience in senior Matt Chidester.   The Abbey will also look to newcomers Peter Jones and Ken Villanger for added punch in the lineup.

The Abbey is ranked 21st in the latest GCAA/Bridgestone Division II Coaches poll after putting together a solid fall season that featured a third and fifth place finish in two Division I tournaments, posting a team one round record of 12 under par at Elon’s Sea Trail Invitational. Matt Chidester was the leader in the fall, posting a team-best 73.22 stroke average in nine rounds, including a low round of 68. Six different Abbey players have posted scores of par or better. Coach Jim Haughey and the Crusaders look to continue the success from last year’s 6th place finish at the National Finals as they move into 2008.

Barton College was picked second by Conference Carolinas coaches. The Bulldogs of 11th-year head coach John Hackney return six players from a team that won the Conference Championship and was ranked No. 1 in the region last season, including reigning conference champ Jonathan Burke, 2007 Freshman of the Year Stephen Harrison and All-Conference performer/senior co-captain Neal Jones. Freshman Daniel Castleberry has also added some clout to the starting lineup for Barton, which won its last tournament of the fall.

“Our league has some fine teams this season,” Hackney said. “We have a core group of excellent players here, and I like our depth. How we fare in the postseason will depend primarily on how the guys in the Nos. 4 and 5 spots play. They are working hard, so I believe we can do some great things.”

The Coker College golf team will begin the 2008 spring season under the leadership of first year head coach Tommy Baker. Coach Baker joins the Cobras for his first ever head coaching job, after spending a year at UNC-Pembroke. Under Coach Baker’s guidance the Cobras are looking to return to the top of the Conference Carolinas standings. Coker returns All-Conference Honorable Mention selection Chris Marsh and senior Stephen Thomson. Newcomers to the Cobras looking to make an impact are freshmen Ben Lasso, AJ Sanders, and John LaDow.

Coker placed sixth in the conference last season, but had a much improved fall season, placing sixth at the Kiawah Island Invitational, 13th at the Coker Invitational at Orange County National and second at the Coker Intercollegiate.

Rounding out the golf preseason poll 4-10 was: Pfeiffer, Anderson, Mount Olive, Queens, Limestone, St. Andrews, and Lees-McRae respectively.

Conference Carolinas Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll
(First place votes in parenthesis)

1. Belmont Abbey   (7)   79

2. Barton College    (2)   67

3. Coker College    (1)   60

4. Pfeiffer University       56

5. Anderson University   50

6. Mount Olive College  47

7. Queens University      40

8. Limestone College     23

9. St. Andrews              17

10. Lees-McRae           11