WINTHROP, Mass. – Johnson & Wales University, after capturing last year's Great Northeast Athletic Conference Men's Golf Championship and earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament, has received seven of nine first-place votes from the league's head coaches in this year's poll.
The 2018 two-day, 36-hole GNAC meet will take place this weekend at Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton, Mass., on Saturday-Sunday, October 13-14, with Worcester State University serving as the host.
Saint Joseph's, which won the 2016 GNAC Championship, has been picked to finish fourth in this year's event. Three seniors lead the Monks as Cam Letourneau (Hebron, Maine), Adam Hachey (Winthrop, Maine), and Adam Batchelder (Portland, Maine/Cheverus) will lean on their experience to keep their team in the thick of the competition this weekend.
JWU received 79 points in the poll after clearing the field by 19 strokes last fall at Valley Country Club in Warwick, R.I. Led by head coach Lou Parente in his 14th season, junior Alex Parente and sophomore Claudio Soukamneuth finished tied for eighth and 13th, respectively, at the 2017 GNAC Championship, while sophomore Ryan Malloy finished 10th to capture GNAC Rookie of the Year accolades. The three will look to help lead the Wildcats to their first back-to-back GNAC titles since 2008-09.
In the poll, JWU finished ahead of second-place University of Southern Maine, which won its sixth event of the fall season this past Monday at the annual USM Fall Classic in Gorham, Maine. The Huskies garnered one first-place vote and 66 points overall in the poll, as junior Tristan Dundas finished tied for fourth at the GNAC Championships a year ago, and finished in a tie for second last week at the aforementioned USM Fall Classic.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Saint Joseph's College of Maine received 63 and 53 points, respectively, in the poll to slot third and fourth. UMass Dartmouth and SJC finished tied for third at last fall's GNAC meet, while the Monks captured the GNAC crown and NCAA berth back in 2016 at Gorham Country Club.
Rhode Island College, which won five straight GNAC Championships from 2011-2015, finished fifth in the poll with 40 points. Host Worcester State received one first-place vote and 39 points, followed by Suffolk University with 37 points, Emmanuel College with 15 points, and Albertus Magnus College with 13 points.
Golfers will tee off at 9:00 AM on Saturday at Blackstone, which was designed by renowned golf course architect Rees Jones. Student-athletes will get Day 2 competition underway at 8:45 AM on Sunday. In the case of inclement weather, 18 holes will be sufficient to determine a GNAC champion.
2018 GNAC Men's Golf Championship Poll
1. Johnson & Wales (7) - 79
2. Southern Maine (1) - 66
3. UMass Dartmouth - 63
4. Saint Joseph's of Maine - 53
5. Rhode Island Coll. - 40
6. Worcester State (1) - 39
7. Suffolk - 37
8. Emmanuel - 15
9. Albertus Magnus - 13