PERKINSTON — No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast is the defending NJCAA Division II golf champions, but the Bulldogs didn't check one box on the way to the title.
They didn't win the MACJC Championship, losing by nine shots to Meridian. The two teams had traded blows all year, but Gulf Coast went on to win its 10th region/district tournament in 11 years ahead of the first team national title.
They'll have a chance to start the postseason on a winning note starting Saturday at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Raymond, Hinds' home course. The 36-hole tournament concludes Sunday.
"I love winning our conference," Gulf Coast coach Tommy Snell said. "It's kind of our deal. I do love winning the conference tournament. That's what we work for every year."
The Bulldogs have won seven state championships since 2008 and been runners-up two other times in that span.
Gulf Coast's squad for this weekend will be Brice Wilkinson (So., Madison Central/Madison), Jon Hopkins (Fr., Hockerill Anglo-European College/Bishop's Stortford, England), Carter Nicholson (So., Pearl River Central/Carriere), Jake Crosson (Fr., New Hope/Columbus) and Miles Jackson (So., Biloxi/Biloxi). That fivesome crushed the field at last weekend's MACJC event in Wesson, winning by 21 shots.
"Everybody's been working hard," Snell said. "We've been looking good, especially coming off the win at Co-Lin. This is what it's all about. It's what we look for all year long, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Gulf Coast will play in the District D Tournament in Amory on April 27-28. The NJCAA Division II Championship will be in Plymouth, Ind., on May 21-24.
"When you go to district, you're just trying to qualify for nationals," Snell said. "Nationals are the ultimate prize every year, and these are just steps along the way. The national championship is our goal, and these are objectives to reach that goal."
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