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DYNAMIC DUO: Point sophomore Ruan Pretorius and senior Joao Magalhaes watch a putt roll during a team practice on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Rashad Miilligan

Point golf team set for flight to Arizona for NAIA Championship

LANETT — As temperatures hovered around the high 70s and low 80s, the atmosphere during the No. 7 Point men’s golf team practice on Wednesday afternoon wasn’t tense at all. Four members of the team played a game, playing off of the team’s worst shot each hole. The matchup was lighthearted, but competitive as senior Joao Magalhaes kept any potential conflicts in check on the course at the Point University Golf Club.

After winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) for a third consecutive season, the Skyhawks are heading to NAIA Championship again this weekend. 

“We’re preparing as we have been for the past year, and we’ve been working very hard these last two weeks because we haven’t had tournaments,” Magalhães said. “The team is looking good, very solid. Everyone is looking solid. We’re excited, and we’re ready for next week.”

As of May 7, Magalhães is the eighth-ranked golfer in all of NAIA this season. A Portugal-native and spring 2019 graduate, Magalhães is heading back to Europe next month to play golf professionally full-time. Magalhães and No. 29-ranked sophomore Eric Wowor were both nominated for this year’s Jack Nicklaus NAIA National Player of the Year Award. 

“It’s my last tournament as a Skyhawk,” Magalhães said. “It’s going to be emotional, honestly. I’ve spent four years with these guys, some of them weren’t here my first couple of years, but [senior] Joao [Basto] was. My coach is the one who brought me here, he’s the one that I’ve been working with for the past four years so he’s the one that put my game at the level that it is now. It’ll be emotional to leave him and leave this team that I really enjoyed playing with for four years.”

Joining Magalhães and Wowor at the national championship are sophomore Ruan Pretorius, sophomore Tanner Lee and Basto.

The current No. 7 ranking is the highest in Point golf history, and the program is led by three-time AAC Coach of the Year Steven Paine. The team leaves for Mesa, Arizona on Saturday to play at theLas Sendas Golf Club next week.

“We’ve been preparing for a couple of weeks now, and I think the guys are just ready to go,” Paine said. “They’ve been doing a lot of local prep, but are now itching to get going.”

The Skyhawks hope that third time’s the charm at the national tournament this season.

“The first year was like, ‘we were just happy to be there’ type deal,” Paine said. “The second year was, ‘we learned from the first year, but if we look back, maybe we just weren’t good enough from a talent standpoint to win it.’ I think this is our first year where we actually have a legitimate shot. If you look at the teams in the top five, we’ve beaten them in individual events before. We have the opportunity to beat them, and we’re trending in the right direction. We’ve had a really strong spring so there’s no reason why we can’t win this. We’ve got the experience, three of the five guys we’re sending have played there and the other two guys are experienced themselves. I think we have a legitimate shot. That’s the goal.”