The Gophers entered the Big Ten championships as one of the hottest teams in the conference but remained unranked in the NCAA rankings when they took the golf course in French Lick, Ind.
To say that put a chip on their shoulder would be a bit of an understatement.
“We’ve been trending in the right direction this entire season,” senior Jon Trasamar said. “We saw something like this coming even if everyone else didn’t.”
The Gophers dominated the Big Ten championships en route to their first outright team title in more than 10 years. Minnesota held off a late charge from Illinois in the final round to win the crown.
“We got the job done,” head coach John Carlson said. “I know winning the Big Ten championships is something we all dream about. And I know the players will have this for a lasting, lifetime memory.”
Minnesota freshman sensation Jose Mendez paced the Gophers all weekend, sharing the individual Big Ten title with Illinois sophomore Charlie Danielson.
“It means a lot,” Mendez said. “It’s really awesome to make this happen and to be celebrating with the whole team.”
Mendez, who is the program’s first Big Ten medalist since 2003, led by three strokes entering the final day of competition and had a shot at the individual Big Ten title outright. A phenomenal round from Danielson helped him overtake Mendez late in the final round, but a bogey on the 18th hole cost him the outright title.
“[Danielson] got a hot putter there and played extremely well,” Carlson said. “It was really fun for Jose, though, to win the last hole, which eventually helped have him tie for the title.”
Mendez said he’s just happy to get part of the victory. He helped set the tone, shooting a 69 in the first round.
“We talked about trying to get off to a good start,” Carlson said. “That was a tremendous score.”
This weekend proved to be a true team effort for the Gophers, as all four members of the scoring roster placed inside the top 20.
“It was really cool to see all of us contribute in different ways at different times and come up with big shots down the stretch to get the win,” Trasamar said.
Trasamar concluded his Big Ten career in impressive fashion, tying for third overall in the individual standings.
“It was a nice way to finish out Big Tens,” Trasamar said. “It was pretty special.”
Minnesota automatically qualified for the NCAA regionals with the victory and can rest easy during Monday’s selection show.
While the Gophers might have flown under the radar heading into Big Ten championships, they likely won’t hold the same luxury during regionals.
“We already beat one of the teams favored to get out of regionals as the champion with Illinois,” Carlson said. “We’re going to take away a lot of confidence from this victory. I fully expect us to go to regionals and pick up right where we left off.”