ARTICLE BY: TONY VENEGAS | ODESSA AMERICAN
The Odessa College golf team has gotten off to a solid start during the early stretch of the season.
The Wranglers, however, want to end the fall season on a winning note and get that chance starting today with the opening round of the NJCAA National Preview at Odessa Country Club. For freshman Jose Dibildox, expectations are high that they can put things together over the next two days.
"I think we have a really good team this year and we stand a great chance," Dibildox said. "We have a lot of great players this year such as Frederik (Topgaard), Marcus (Wochner) and they have all played well."
The freshman from Saltillo, Mexico, has made a smooth transition into collegiate golf, earning two top-10 finishes and earning a WJCAC golfer of the week award back in September. His best finish was a tie for third place at the High Country Shootout in Ruidoso, N.M.
Like his teammate, Topgaard is also heading into this week's tournament with a lot of confidence. He finished tied for third in the season's first tournament in Andrews on Sept. 7-8 and has another Top 10 finish as well.
The sophomore from Denmark also finished tied for 11th at the RJGA South Central Fall Preview back on Oct. 1 in Albuquerque and helped lead the Wranglers to a second-place finish competing with several NCAA Division II schools.
"I've been playing really well from tee to green so far this season," Topgaard said. "It's been the best part of my game this season."
That strong play has been encouraging for head coach Paul Chavez, who is looking forward to seeing where the Wranglers stack up among the top junior college programs in the country.
"Both of them (Dibildox and Topgaard) definitely have enormous talent and a good feel for the game," Chavez said. "We're really excited to have them on board and playing well and just look forward to having a great event."
Another advantage that could help the Wranglers is the familiarity with the course. The field will tee off on the Links Course starting at noon with the forecast calling for cold and windy conditions.
"The biggest key to playing well is to be able to control your trajectory," Topgaard said. "You have to be able to hit a lot of different shots against the wind and into the wind."
The tournament was originally schedule to be a 54-hole tournament. Those plans, however, have changed due to the freezing temperatures and will be a 36-hole competition.
The conditions don't matter as much for players like Dibildox. His goal is to go out and take care of what he can control.
"We just have to stay warm," Dibildox said. "I mean, I'm not used to playing in this kind of weather, but we just have to play it as it lies and I think we'll be ready for that."
This won't be the first NJCAA tournament held in Odessa this season. The Division I National Championships will be held at the same course in May and Chavez wants to see his team improve towards that goal of winning the program's 10th national title.
"Being familiar with the golf course is definitely going to have our guys a little more comfortable and relaxed," Chavez said. "At the same time, we have to go out there and execute and play well.
"Hopefully, we can use this as a springboard towards a great spring and ultimately a national championship."