PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Arkansas-Pine Bluff is getting a good reason to celebrate the university’s 150th anniversary.
Two weeks after the men and women UAPB golf teams swept the SWAC championships — the first conference title in school history — the Golden Lion men are selected to the NCAA Regionals on Wednesday in front of a nationally televised audience.
“I’m so proud of the kids, I’m so proud of the university,” 4-time running SWAC coach of the year Roger Totten said at the team’s watch party. “We earned it because we did it the right way. We worked in practice and preparation, going to class, everything we got we earned it. There were no givens.”
On the heels of securing an at-large bid by dominating the SWAC tournament, winning the championship event by 29 strokes, UAPB is placed to the Norman Regional in Oklahoma. The Golden Lions are one of 81 teams in the country to qualify for the postseason, pegged as the final seed of 14 in Norman.
“To be able to make history here at UAPB, it’s awesome,” first team All-SWAC freshman Ismael Garcia said. “The first day we got here coach told us what his goal is. He wanted to be SWAC champions. We worked hard all year and finally the work paid off.”
“It was our goal in August to win the championship, to bring a championship back to Pine Bluff,” first team All-SWAC junior Li Su said. “I’m just glad we are able to stand here and have the opportunity to go to regionals and showcase what we’re all about.”
The top five placing teams at each of the six national regionals advance to become one of 30 teams competing in the NCAA championship. Featuring four all-SWAC selections, three of whom being first-team picks, the Pine Bluff men hope that they’re not done making history.
“It’s an accomplishment to be here and have this opportunity but it’s also an opportunity in itself,” Su said. “To showcase that on the next level against schools you might hear of on a daily basis. We’re confident.”
“We’ve practiced our whole lives for this,” Garcia said. “There’s no reason to have extra pressure because of the players that will be playing there or the universities. So we’re just going to go there, do our best, and we’ll see how it goes.”
See our full story to hear more from the UAPB golf team before facing some of the nation’s best with the chance to make the championship.