PINEVILLE, Ky. – They call it Pine Mountain State Park, but the majestic mountain hillsides are also covered with oak and maple. Meandering through the valley is Clear Creek, a trickling, crystal clear stream that criss-crosses through Wasioto Winds Golf Course.
Along the fairways are native hemlock and rhododendron. In addition to the creek are numerous wetlands, and water comes into play from three lakes.
The name Wasiotyo means Valley of the Deer.
The stunning natural beauty found throughout this 18-hole golf course, located in the southeast corner of Kentucky, can present plenty of distractions.
It was in that setting that the Tennessee Tech men's golf team opened the fall portion of its schedule Monday, playing two rounds in the 12-team field. After posting a 299 in the opening round, the Golden Eagles improved by four shots on their second tour of the 6,656-yard, par 72 layout.
Tech heads into Tuesday's final round in eighth place with a 594 total, led by sophomore Mason Griffin in 26th place individually.
The tourney marks the coaching debut with the Tech men's team for newly named head coach Polk Brown.
Northern Kentucky set a torrid pace and Southern Illinois nearly matched it. With seven of their 10 rounds Monday at par or below, NKU shot 284 and 283 and owns a two-shot lead at 567. Southern Illinois led after the first round with a 281 and followed with a 288, placing it second at 269.
UT Martin, the leader among five Ohio Valley Conference teams in the field, is in third place at 575, including a 283 in the first round. Fellow OVC entries Eastern Illinois (58) and Morehead State (581) round out the top five.
Bellarmine (582) is sixth, followed by University of the Cumberlands (586), Tech (594), Murray State (597) and John A. Logan College (597) in the Top 10. Walters State (600) and Trevecca Nazarene (620) round out the field.
Brown had to make an adjustment to his lineup at the last minute when senior Tyler Cassetty was unable to compete due to an illness. Travis Ramsey, originally slated to play as an individual entry, jumped into the Tech lineup and had the second-best score through the first round with a 74.
Griffin was consistent, carding scores of 73 and 75 to finish with a 148. He led the entire field of 75 golfers in par three scoring and finds himself just four shots out of the Top 10.
Greg Kitts also showed steady play with rounds of 75 and 74, and is tied for 24th place at 149. True freshman Taylor Diegel (shown in photo above left), playing in his first collegiate event, shot 77 and 74, and is tied for 43rd place at 151. One shot back at 152 is Lee Maxwell, who overcame a first round 80 with an even-par 72 second round. Ramsey followed his opening 74 with an 82, and is tied for 64th place at 156.
The individual leaders in the tourney are David Lawrence of Eastern Illinois and Tyler Shellnut of UT Martin, each sitting at six-under 138.
The final round begins at 9 a.m. ET with a shotgun start. The Golden Eagles will tee off on seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth holes, paired with players from Murray State and University of the Cumberlands.