Travis Cashion and his University of South Carolina Beaufort men's golf teammates stood in the parking lot at Wilmington Island Club on Tuesday, talking about fall break plans.
Cashion, a Sand Sharks senior in his fourth year with the program, is still getting to know some of his fellow USCB players. Despite his tenure, he wasn't familiar with most of the names on the roster to start the season.
But as the fall season closed Tuesday, Cashion and coach Chris Cuneo have a better feel for the Sand Sharks' makeup. The team finished fifth Tuesday, posting an 883 total after the final round of the Wilmington Island Intercollegiate, a 54-hole NAIA tournament held on the tree-lined Donald Ross layout outside of Savannah. Cashion shot a final-round 75 to finish ninth individually.
Cumberlands won the team title, finishing at 6-over-par 858. Patriots junior Alastair Tidcombe secured medalist honors, closing with two rounds in the 60s to finish 6 under par.
The tournament marked the end of the Sand Sharks' fall season, which included a victory at Valdosta, Ga., the previous outing. The four events during the fall allowed Cuneo to juggle his lineup and allow most everyone a chance to perform under tournament conditions.
"It comes down to who wants it, who wants it the most and goes out and gets it," Cuneo said. "They're the ones that are going to play. I tell the guys that all the time. If you want something, work hard, play hard, good things will happen for you."
The hope is that, despite the new faces, USCB again competes for a national title. The Sand Sharks have finished in the top 10 at the NAIA National Championships the past four seasons.
Eight of the 12 Sand Sharks are new this season, either incoming freshmen or transfers. The team graduated three seniors from the group that finished 10th nationally this past spring.
"Our main goal is to get back to nationals," Cashion said. "And when we get back to nationals, we want to win, something we've never done."
USCB set the tone during the fall, winning the Thomas University Invitational in Valdosta and grabbing a No. 7 ranking in the Golf World/Nike Golf NAIA College Coaches Poll.
At Wilmington Island, teams played 36 holes Monday before the Tuesday finish. The Sand Sharks posted their best round Monday afternoon, shooting 286 as a team, with Cashion and junior Owen Bell both firing rounds under par.
Cool and breezy conditions Tuesday dampened scoring. Small, well-bunkered greens and towering pines helped protect the course.
USCB posted its highest score, 302, on Tuesday, but managed to move up a spot to finish fifth. Cashion played the course as a freshman and sophomore and was familiar with some of its traits.
"The greens are usually pretty hard and firm, and they get pretty quick around here," Cashion said. "I knew that coming in."
He said the Sand Sharks often discuss how to attack a course based on each players' strengths. The Sand Sharks will host their own tournament in March.
Cuneo hopes the team's knowledge of Oldfield Club leads to victory and provides a boost headed to nationals.
"I'm going to go ahead and say we're the favorite to win our home tournament," Cuneo said. "Because that's the way it should be."
Wilmington Island Invitational
The Wilmington Island Club, Par 71
Cumberlands (Ky.) 288-285-285-- 858
Lee (Tenn.) 286-280-293-- 859
College of Coastal Georgia 288-284-295-- 867
Johnson & Wales (Fla.) 280-295-301-- 876
USC Beaufort 295-286-302-- 883
Northwood (Fla.) 290-289-308-- 887
Thomas (Ga.) 295-298-296-- 889
Webber International (Fla.) 297-298-299-- 894
Warner (Fla.) 295-299-302-- 896
SCAD Savannah 296-298-309-- 903
Webber International "B" 299-315-295-- 909
Reinhardt (Ga.) 312-301-299-- 912
SCAD Atlanta 299-306-317-- 922
Top 10 individuals
Alastair Tidcombe, Cumberlands 71-69 -67-- 207
Allen Bradford, Coastal Ga. 68-68-74-- 210
Hunter Vest, Lee 70-70-71-- 211
Hugo Alvarez Asorey, Cumberlands 70-72-70-- 212
Will Hume, Northwood 70-68-74-- 212
Josh Briere, Johnson & Wales 67-72-73-- 212
Billy Nisbet, SCAD Sav. 70-72-73-- 215
Peyton Sliger, Lee 70-71-74-- 215
Travis Cashion, USCB 72-69-75-- 216
Hunter Cornelius, Coastal Ga. 73-72-72-- 217