Riverland’s Clark earns All-American status

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2002

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. &045; Jeff Clark was in an excellent position to become the first All-American golfer at Riverland Community College, and he didn’t disappoint.

The freshman from Austin fired a 77 Friday to finish in sixth place in the National Junior College Athletic Association National Golf Championships at Chautauqua, N.Y.

Justin Bennett of Albert Lea, making his second national appearance for the Blue Devils, finished in a tie for 19th and missed All-American status by one place. Albert Lea’s Mike Elseth, competing for Rochester Community and Technical College, ended in a five-way tie for 30th. A total of 99 golfers competed.

Email newsletter signup

Friday’s round completed four days of solid golf for Clark, who shot 77 Tuesday, 75 Wednesday and 76 Thursday. He totaled 305 strokes for 72 holes, 12 strokes behind medalist Joe Kunz of Monroe CC; Kunz shot a 72 Friday.

Clark could have had a lower score Friday if not for some problems on the final five holes, which he played 5-over-par.

&uot;He still had a good round and he was very consistent,&uot; said Riverland coach David Lillemon. &uot;It’s our highest finish ever and he’s our first All-American.&uot;

Bennett carded a 77 Friday after rounds of 79, 78 and 80 for a total of 314. He finished 24th at nationals last year with a 309, which would have earned him 12th place this year.

&uot;I’m sure Justin is a little disappointed with his week, but those things happen,&uot; said Lillemon. &uot;For some reason he never really did have his swing all week. But I’m very proud of both kids. They represented us very well.&uot;

Elseth had an 81 Friday to finish at 319.

This is the fifth consecutive year Riverland was represented at the national tournament and, according to Lillemon, it will probably reach six next year.

&uot;We have a nice string going,&uot; said Lillemon. &uot;I believe All-Americans automatically qualify for next year, so Jeff’s in.&uot;