Robbins ready to lead Mavericks
Division II All-American golfer Brandon Bingaman finished his four years at Colorado Mesa University in May and now is pursuing a professional playing career.
That’s a major loss for Colorado Mesa coach Paul Brown, but the Mavericks don’t enter the new season empty-handed.
Brown has four returning players, including Sean Robbins, plus two junior college transfers and six talented freshmen on the team this year.
“I feel like this year there are a lot more guys trying to be more competitive and play for the last few spots,” Robbins said. “The last few days have been really incredible. Our top five scorers in qualifying collected a total of 12-under one round, which is incredible. We’ve never had qualifying scores like that before.”
Robbins played in the No. 2 spot behind Bingaman the past two years, and he often pushed Bingaman for the Mavericks’ low score.
“Sean is a great young man,” Brown said. “He has great moral character and is a real leader. He has an outgoing personality. I think he’ll take (leadership) to the next level. He understands the importance of relationships.”
Robbins is joined by returning players Jake Jacobs, Adam Griffith and Chris Aiken.
Brown said Griffith is “a very competitive young man,” Jacobs has improved, and Aiken “adds depth and is good for us.”
“I look for big things from Jake Jacobs,” Brown added.
Several new faces are expected to figure in the Mavericks’ team score each time out. College transfers Matt Flores and Cody Ek are competing for spots, with freshmen Colin Prater, Will Berg of Fruita Monument and Plateau Valley’s Kyler Smith, among others.
“I’m so optimistic,” Brown said. “We’re building depth and good character with the kids.
“With our track record and the history in the short three or four years, the kids are seeing we’re going to be competitive. The school has given us some scholarship money, so I go after players like Colin Prater.”
Brown believes Prater will give the Mavericks depth as he adjusts to playing three rounds per invitational in college rather then one round in high school.
“I think Colin will be a real asset to our team,” Brown said. “If we can get Matt Flores playing like I know he can play day in and day out, he’ll be real competitive.”
Prater, who is from Colorado Springs, is familiar with Grand Junction and the courses. He won The Daily Sentinel Western Chapter Championship tournament in 2011 and 2012. The Palmer High School graduate placed fifth at the Class 5A state championships last fall.
“It will be a battle week in and week out,” Prater said. “I think the toughest competition will be trying to qualify for tournaments as opposed to the tournaments.
“We’ll be under pressure a lot. Then, when we go to tournaments we won’t feel any pressure. That’s the great thing about it.”
Smith, who played golf for Palisade because Plateau Valley doesn’t have a golf program, nearly went to Eckerd (Fla.) College before deciding to stay home. He qualified for the Class 4A state meet three times for Palisade.
“I like it here,” Smith said. “School is cool. The kids on the golf team are great. It’s been fun so far.”
Smith plans to study biological science and major in medicine. He had a team-qualifying round of 64 last week.
“We’ve got a lot of competition on the team,” Smith said. “The whole team is great golfers. One kid had one bad day, then comes back and shoots 70. Our fifth man is only 4 over par through two days (of team qualifying). We have lots of room for improvement.”
Brown believes Flores, Ek, Prater and Smith can help deliver team success, something the Mavericks haven’t achieved in their four-year history.
“We should win at least one tournament if not more,” Brown said. “That’s our goal is to go in and win and to have an individual champion winner also. I’d like to see our kids compete every single tournament. That means they need to realize they can win a tournament, too, any one of them.”
Five players compete in a tournament for each team. The top four players score.
Colorado Mesa begins the 2013-14 season at the Ryan Palmer Invitational on Sept. 16-17 at Tascosa Country Club in Canyon, Texas. After a winter hiatus, play resumes in the spring.