Written by JMU Athletics Communiciatons Student Assistant Casey Henderson
HARRISONBURG, Va., February 23, 2012- The James Madison men's golf team is halfway through its season. Despite spotty play early in the year, the Dukes came away with a first-place finish at the Barnabas Health Intercollegiate in mid-October and tied for eighth at their largest tournament of the year, with 18 teams, in the fall finale. Progress mid-season doesn't usually give the Dukes much comfort, as they are a team that has historically been plagued with inconsistencies in the postseason.
The Dukes haven't finished higher than fourth place at the CAA Championships since their third place finish in 2006. Despite the hot and cold postseason performances in the past, the Dukes have reason for optimisim, part of it coming from freshman Trey Smith. An all-star high school recruit out of Virginia Beach who has already been making waves in his freshman season, Smith could be the consistent force that puts JMU ahead in postseason play for the next four years.
Smith was a standout at Kellam High School as a two-time All-State golfer and AAA State Tournament runner-up his junior year. In 2010, he played in the Virginia State Golf Association Junior Amateur Championship and finished 17th overall. So it comes as no surprise that he has excelled under the pressures of being a collegiate athlete.
He leads Madison this season with his 73.1 strokes per round average over three tournaments. He shot a career-low 3-under par 69 on the first day of the Old Dominion/OBX Collegiate Tournament on October 23rd, where he finished the three rounds at even to capture 10th place. The weekend before at the Barnabas Health Intercollegiate Tournament, Smith finished ninth, beating out 79 other golfers and helping JMU to the team title. He has a season win-loss record of 196-69, the best on the team. He's proving he's among the best, but now he needs to prove he's elite.
"If he continues to work hard, I think he will be one of the best players to come through JMU," predicts head coach Jeff Forbes, who credits Smith's work ethic as preparing him for college competition. "Trey has come to JMU determined to play and start as a freshman. He put in the work necessary over the summer to come ready to go."
As far as postseason play, Forbes' expectations remain high not only for Smith, but the entire team. About the end-of-the-season conference tournament and CAA Championships, Forbes says, "My hope is that the seniors and juniors will step up and start challenging Trey for his top spot. Hopefully this will improve everyone on the team."
Smith might be force that catapults the Dukes onto the podium this year in the playoffs. His resume boasts high school accomplishments and outstanding play in his first season as a Duke. If he can improve over the next four years, Trey Smith and the men's golf team could bring a Championship trophy to Harrisonburg.
"Only time will tell," Forbes stated. "But based on Trey Smith's play and leadership so far this season, those positive results may happen sooner than later."
The men's golf team will play its next tournament in Wilmington, N.C. on February 26 and 27.