Red Wolves win in record fashion

Arkansas State’s Julien Sale studies a putt during Tuesday’s final round of the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate at RidgePointe Country Club. Sale finished first individually with a tournament-record 200 over three rounds, including a 65 Tuesday.

JONESBORO — Remarkable. Unbelievable.

Arkansas State’s performance Monday and Tuesday in the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate left sixth-year men’s head golf coach Mike Hagen searching for adjectives.

The Red Wolves shot a stunning 50-under par over three rounds at RidgePointe Country Club, obliterating their school and tournament records with a combined 814 total that was 34 strokes better than runner-up Texas State.

“I’m at a loss for words, shooting 50 under,” said Hagen, who led ASU to the Sun Belt Conference title and an NCAA regional tournament in 2019. “I’ve never had one of my teams here do that or my previous stop, and I had some really good teams there, too.”

The Red Wolves shot the lowest round in school history Monday, finishing the first round at 269. They came back with a 273 for Monday’s second round and combined for a 272 in Tuesday’s final round.

ASU led by 23 strokes entering the final round, holding the top five places on the individual leaderboard.

“I think these guys are such competitors that they even started competing against themselves individually within those groups, which probably helped push them today to get to the number that we did,” Hagen said.

Six Red Wolves finished in the top 10 individually. Senior Julien Sale was the medalist with a 16-under par 200.

Freshman Tom Vaillant finished third in his ASU debut with a 10-under par 206 (67-72-67). Sophomore Luka Naglic (65-73-69) and senior Zan Luka Stirn (68-68-71) tied for fourth, each shooting 207.

Redshirt freshman Connor Wilson (73-70-69) finished sixth at 212 while competing as an individual. Freshman Devyn Pappas, also competing as an individual, shot an even-par 72 each round to tie for ninth at 216.

Junior Michael Weppernig (218) and sophomore Jack Madden (226) tied for 14th and 28th, respectively.

Sale, who was part of ASU’s Sun Belt championship team in 2019, said this year’s squad is the best so far.

“There’s no gaps,” Sale said. “From one through six, everybody is pretty good.”

Sale set a tournament record with his 200, beating the 203 shot by ASU’s Tyler Thompson in 2008. He fired a 69 in the first round, a 66 in the second and a 7-under par 65 in the third round.

“Julien works so hard. We recruited him before he went to Indian Hills, he went there for a couple of years to sharpen his game and he came in here and made a tremendous impact on our program his junior year,” Hagen said. “Obviously last year he was playing solid and then this whole (COVID) thing hit. He had a good summer when they finally started playing over in Europe midway through, had a lot of good finishes over there. He came in and looked sharp, always does the right things.”

ASU won its home tournament for the fifth consecutive season. Texas State was second in the 10-team field at 848, followed by Abilene Christian in third at 874.

The Red Wolves travel to Chenal Country Club next Monday and Tuesday for the Little Rock Invitational, an event that closes their fall schedule.

“I haven’t had a team this deep before in my career. We’ve got a lot of guys who will be in and out of that lineup for sure come this spring,” Hagen said. “We’ve only got one event left in the fall, so we’ll see what happens this week with a spot or two, but other than that, going into the spring, it could be interesting.”