+ College Golf

Anderson men are now #1 in DII

The Anderson Trojans will spend the rest of this year and the start of 2023 as the Number 1 ranked NCAA Division II Mens team. The Trojans have won four fall tournaments and finished in front of many of the top DII teams in the country. Anderson University Director of Golf Danny Neal (right) has led the Trojan program for 20 years, but this year’s men’s and women’s teams are doing things that have never been done at Anderson. Associate Head Coach and Women’s Coach Denton Moore has helped to expand the recruiting base, but has found quality golfers in the immediate Upstate area. Members of the #1 ranked Trojans are Simon Wright, Sam Norris, Parker MacDonald, Calahan Keever, Alejandro de Castro,Reece Coleman and Daniel Corker.

There are a lot of roads that run through the Upstate.

A couple of Interstates and plenty of state roads that can take you just about anywhere.

Anderson University has put its name on one road, but that road isn’t on any map.

It is the road to the NCAA Division II Championship and in the last few years it has been rerouted from I-4 in Florida to I-85 in South Carolina.

Over the last 20 years Anderson University’s Director of Golf, Danny Neal has had good teams and some really good players, but they have never been where they are today.

The Trojans have won 4 straight tournaments and have been rewarded with the #1 ranking in Golf Stat.

“Right now it is just special,” said Neal. “You wish you could play every week. Our guys have been rolling and been beating some pretty strong fields,” said the Trojans coach.

In each of the victories, the schools that were behind the Trojans at the end of each of the four tournaments, used to be the ones that were in front of Anderson in the polls.

Anderson’s Director of Golf Danny Neal has led both the Men and Women’s teams for most of his now 20 years at the University. Last year he was honored as the SAC Coach of the Year. (Anderson Photo)

D-II powers like Lynn, Nova Southeastern, Berry and a dozen other teams believe the DII championship is only for those few schools, who have always been in the championship hunt, but that has changed.

“Our guys are pretty excited about what they have done. They are seeing their work pay off and they all want to continue to work to get better,’ said Neal.

DII schools don’t get battle ready recruits, instead they get golfers with potential, who may have developed late or didn’t have the look the DI schools like to see.

Callahan Keever, from Greenville helped get the first win in the streak at the North Georgia Mizuno Intercollegiate, and earned a share of the medalists honors for himself.

Keever was a late developing junior. He was a high school quarterback and played several other sports. He didn’t concentrate on golf until his senior year.

He was the Greenville County High School champ and won the SCJGA Orange Jacket Classic.

In addition to the shared first place finish Keever has finished fourth, fifth and eleventh this year.

Callahan Keever played several sports at Greenville Eastside before taking up golf full time. This year he has a win and two top-fives to his credit. (GolfClub Photo)

“The guys are all excited about the year so far,” said Keever. “We have been in the women’s shadow the last few years and it is great to get to this level,” said the Greenville Eastside grad.

Keever is ranked 12th, 3 spots behind his teammate Reece Coleman in the latest GolfStat Player rankings.

“When you grow up playing junior golf in South Carolina you are always playing against golfers who go to Power 5 schools. You are not shaking in your boots when you play good people, you look forward to the challenge,” noted Keever, looking ahead to the spring tournaments and regionals.

The #4 ranked Anderson Women’s team made the NCAA DII finals last year for the first time and hope to get back to the finals again. In the Fall the Trojans have an impressive win at the LeeAnnNobleMemorial and last year’s All-American Jessica Rathbone was the medalist at the City with Spirit Classic. This year’s team includes veterans Rathbone and Kennedy McGaha, Kerington Lamb, Emma Charles and Zoey Iglesias. First year Trojans Kennedy Gooding, Aly Francis and Paige Paolucci have already been in the line up. (Anderson University photo)

The women’s team is just as competitive and has moved up to fourth in the poll.

Last year they made the NCAA DII Championship Final-Four.

The top newcomer in the South Atlantic Conference last year was Kennedy McGaha from Belton and this year she is ranked 14th in the country.

The women’s team started the season playing in Dallas Baptist’s home tournament.
DBU is the Stanford of DII womens golf and the Trojans didn’t win the tournament, but they didn’t blink either.

“We know how good we are and how capable we are,” said McGaha. “We can win playing those teams,” she said.

The women will have a home field advantage at the end of the season because the South Atlantic Conference championship will be played on the Trojans’ home course at Cobbs’ Glenn.

Moore was named the DII Golf Pride WGCA assistant coach of the year and in the off season was promoted to head women’s coach, but still helps Neal with the men.

Denton Moore was named the head women’s coach last summer. Kennedy McGagaha was the top newcomer in the South Atlantic Confernce last year. (Anderson Photo)

There are plenty of stops on the road to the DII Championship in the Sunshine State, but it is no longer the only way to get there.

“Last year it was the women who had big tournament finishes over the Florida teams. They couldn’t just show up and win anymore. They know there are some other teams in the Region who can play,” said Moore, who besides coaching has refined the Trojans recruiting process to blend outstanding local talent with an occasional golfer from outside South Carolina or the country.

This year it is looking like the Anderson men can do the same thing the women did last year and hope to do again this year.

Make the top teams pass through the upstate.

There is a lot of golf left to be played after the first of the year and rankings will likely be different.

When Anderson bumped up to the top spot it came in one of the last polls of the Fall season, meaning anyone who checks out the rankings will see Anderson at #1 until after the first of the year.

Most coaches and athletes will tell you rankings don’t mean much when you play for a championship on the field, but for the Trojan men the #1 ranking does have meaning and is important.

It not only recognizes a teams achievement playing, but it also is a measure of respect and this year the way the Trojans have played they have earned that respect and the #1 ranking.

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