By Steven Bartolotta, May 18, 2010, 9:31 a.m.
Well, golf season isn't officially over yet for North Texas. It is for the team, but freshman Rodolfo Cazaubon and Carlos Ortiz are advancing to the NCAA Regional later this week with a shot at the NCAA Championship. A quick glance at the season shows just how much progress this team has made in one short year.
North Texas is ranked 78th as a team, that might go up or down one or two after the regional, but they will be in the top 80. That will be the best ranking for North Texas since 2003-04. 78 isn't exactly great, but this program hasn't finished in the top 100 since then, which is hard to stomach.
I did a little research and numbers are shocking, quite shocking about the state of North Texas golf from 2004-09.
North Texas Rankings From 2004-09
That's Oakland Raiders bad, and certainly will go down as one of these in the history books. The real question is how did North Texas do against the competition last year compared to the previous five?
North Texas record from 2004-09
Record vs. Top 25 teams: 0-15
Record vs. Top 50 teams: 2-68
Record vs. Top 100 teams: (cover your eyes) 41-245.
Compare that to this year, 2009-10
Record vs. Top 25 teams: 1-7
Record vs. Top 50 teams: 2-22
Record vs. Top 100 teams: 33-55.
Still nothing to crow about, but a marked improvement from the previous five seasons.
How did it happen so fast? Easy, the freshman. Not trying to discount the contributions of others, but golfstat.com has the North Texas freshman class ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Yes, you heard right, only UCLA and USC have freshman classes ranked higher this season. The top 25 is littered with name-brand schools, such as Washington, Duke, Cal, Mississippi State, Clemson, TCU, Stanford, Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, and Mississippi....to name a few.
It won't take me going into RV's office telling him to make sure Stracke's contract extension is in permanent ink, his results speak for themselves.
This season saw the lowest team stroke average in seven years, the first team title in five years, the first Freshman of the Year in school history, and the first time multiple golfers have advanced in the NCAA's.
A lot of firsts, but with rankings comes notoriety, then expectations, but Stracke and his young pups have raised the bar.
The easy part, getting into the top 100, is over. The hard part is cracking the top 50 and beyond. The margin for error is minimal but the really hard work is just beginning for a program that before this year languished in obscurity.