The University of Houston-Victoria men's golf team will be competing in a dual conference this season as the Red River Athletic Conference will compete with the Gulf States Athletic Conference for a right to advance to the NAIA National Championships.
The Jaguars, with all five first team players from last season back, enter this season ranked No. 5 in the unaffiliated conference. Arizona Christian is the top ranked team in the conference followed by William Jessup (Calif.), The Masters (Calif.) and Our Lady of the Lake University. Hope International (Calif.) follows UHV with Houston St. Thomas, University of the Southwest and Menlo (Calif.) rounding out the conference preseason poll.
Arizona Christian stands at No. 15 in the NAIA Men's Golf Coaches' Preseason Poll, while William Jessup is at No. 19 and The Masters is at No. 25. OLLU received votes in the preseason poll.
Oklahoma City University is the top-ranked team in the NAIA preseason poll with 11 first-place votes and 459 points, while Dalton State follows at No. 2 with 442 points and one first-place vote. Texas Wesleyan at No. 3, Grand View (Iowa) at No. 4 and Johnson & Wales (Fla.) at No. 5 round out the top-five spots in the preseason poll.
After a second-place finish in last year's RRAC Championships, the Jaguars are hoping that with all five players from the team back they will be able to challenge for the unaffiliated conference title in the spring.
Senior Cristian Esparza (SR/Houston, TX) returns to lead the team along with juniors Adrian Sanez and Juan David Coy (JR/Bucaramanga, Colombia) and sophomores Terry Strickland (SO/Missouri City, TX) and James Rollins (SO/Liberty Hill, TX). The fivesome combined to post the team's lowest round of the season with a 285 in the final round of the conference tournament last year
The same group finished the year winning the PGA Minority Golf Championships' NAIA Division. They groups team score would have been good enough to win the NCAA Division II title by two shots and place third in the NCAA Division I bracket.
Returning to add more experience to the team are Brett Currie (SO/Richmond, TX), Corey Rodriguez (SO/San Marcos, TX) Paul Ferrette (JR/Houston, TX), Preston Woodard (SR/Mansfield, TX) and Hunter Redding (SO/Victoria, TX), along with three newcomers, Joseph Hunter (FR/Traverse City, MI), Nolan Hays (FR/Misquite, TX) and Sam Lucas (JR/Hooks, England).
The Jaguars will open the fall season on Sept. 25-26 when the host the UHV Fall Classic at Victoria Country Club.