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Owens gets rare opportunity to shoot for title

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    Jetta Fraser

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When the Owens Community College men’s golf team tees off at the NJCAA Division II national championships on Tuesday, its head coach hopes the golfers will take at least one thing from the experience.

“This is going to be something people will never be able to take away from them,” said Josh Williams, who is in his first year as head coach. "That’s something I’ve been able to pass along. They’ll get the chance to say to people, ‘I was able to do that.’ ”

The Express opens the 20-team, 200-player tournament at Goose Pond Colony Golf Course in Scottsboro, Ala., in a no-cut, four-round team tournament that goes through Friday.

“My plan was to come in, get quality kids that wanted to win, that had that desire, who were going to go out and get it done,” said Williams, who was an assistant coach with the Owens men’s golf team for six years prior to this season. “If I got that nucleus of kids, I knew the sky was the limit. We set our goals high and my goal, with these kids coming in here, [was] we’re going for the national championship.”

Paced by Brandon Hoelzer and Walter Dorosh, Owens won the 10-team Region XII tournament Tuesday at Bedford Valley Golf Course in Battle Creek, Mich., 32 shots ahead of Muskegon (Mich.) Community College.

Hoelzer, a freshman from Fremont Ross, and Dorosh, a sophomore from Pinckney, Mich., tied for the lead with a 218 after 72 holes. Hoelzer birdied to claim the regional individual championship in a one-hole playoff and was also named the Region XII golfer of the year.

“We were on kind of a bit of a run here,” Williams said. “Going in, we knew there was several good teams, like Grand Rapids Community College, Muskegon, and a couple other ones. We knew it was going to be tough because only two teams were going to make it out and go to nationals. We knew people were gunning for us, they saw what we were doing throughout the year.”

In addition to a five-player team, which includes Luke Berger, a sophomore from Temperance, and Darren Gessner, a sophomore and a Napoleon graduate, Owens will have seven golfers compete in the individual tournament.

Owens, which qualified for the national tournament in 2006 and 2008, enters the tournament as the No. 3 team in the country in the NJCAA Division II poll, behind South Mountain CC of Phoenix and Southeast CC of Beatrice, Neb.

“No matter where we finish, I want them to know that they had the most incredible year ever,” Williams said. “Just to live this moment up, because you may never get another shot at this. You’re competing against the best players in America.”

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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