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MIDDLETOWN, Del. - - The Wilmington University golf team overcame a six-stroke deficit on Wednesday, producing a nine-stroke swing to capture their seventh consecutive Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championship, shooting a 290 in the second round to defeat Dominican by three strokes.
During their run to seven straight CACC Tournaments, this year's tournament is the first time the Wildcats needed to come back from a first round deficit to secure the win.
After posting a 318 on a wet and windy day on Tuesday, the Wildcats battled back to shot a 290 for a tournament score of 608 (+40). They cut the six-stroke deficit in half as all five groups were through the front nine, and eventually overtook the Chargers around the 15th hole.
The final three holes remained close however, as the Chargers only trailed by one stroke with only two groups remaining on the course. Zac Moore stuck his approach shot on 18 to within six inches of the cup to gain another stroke before Ryan Rucinski completed an stellar up-and-down on the final hole to seal the deal.
Senior Freddy Braun was first into the clubhouse on Wednesday and was able to erase an 87 from his mind in the first round to come back and post a 72 (+1) on Wednesday. He narrowly missed coming in at even par, hitting a birdie on the par five 11th, but bogeyed the 18th green. Braun finished in a tie for 22nd overall with a 159 (+17).
Braun set the wheels in motion for the comeback.
Senior Miguel Siercke rebounded from a dismal first round, as he shot a team best 71 (E) on Wednesday. He made the turn at one-under par, hitting birdies on hole four and five. He also missed a chance to come in at under par, but bogeyed the 18th green. He hit 10 straight pars prior to missing the short par putt on the final hole. He finished with a 156 (+14) to finish in a tie for 13th overall.
Senior Sam Clark finished strong for the Wildcats, hitting a birdie putt on the par-five 16th before hitting back-to-back pars to close out his round. He had a birdie putt on 18 as well, but was unable to find the bottom of the cup. He shot a 78 (+7) on Wednesday finishing with a 78-78 for a 156 (+14) and in a tie for 14th overall.
Moore's approach on 18 may have been the nail in the coffin for the rest of the field, as his tap-in birdie finished on an even par back-nine. He had the third best round for the Wildcats on Wednesday, shooting a 78-73 for 151 (+9), finishing in a tie for fifth overall. He earned All-Tournament team for his fifth place finish.
Rucinski was the final Wildcat on the course, and although he missed the green on 18, his wedge got him to within a few feet to officially complete the comeback. After hitting a double-bogey on 12 and another bogey on 13, Rucinski came back and hit a birdies on 14 and 16 to finish with a 74 (+3). He shot a 77-74 for a 151, finishing in a tie for fifth overall. He was named to the All-Tournament team for his fifth place finish.
Dominican shot a 299 on Wednesday, finishing with a 611 (+43). Concordia finished third overall with a 323-295 for a 618 (+50).
Nyack's Elliot Wakefield used his hole-in-one in the first round to carry him to the individual medalist honors, winning the tournament with a 70-78 for a 148 (+6).
The Wildcats will now gear up for the 2017 NCAA Division II Atlantic/East Super Regional Tournament hosted by Concord University at the Glad Spring Resort Golf Course in Daniels, West Virginia. The three-round, three-day tournament will begin on Monday, May 8.