- - Friday, June 1, 2012

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Some might be surprised that a lineup with just one senior and anchored by freshmen could reach the NCAA golf national championships.

Longtime Virginia Tech coach Jay Hardwick isn’t among them.

Hardwick, who guided the youthful Hokies to California this week, said he believes his team just lived up to its potential.

“Everybody kept calling us overachievers,” Hardwick said by phone from Pacific Palisades, Calif. “We didn’t feel like overachievers at all. I think we’re pretty good.”

His players agreed.

“I thought the team had a lot of potential,” sophomore Bryce Chalkley, a Richmond native and former St. Christopher’s standout, said Friday before boarding a flight back to Virginia. “It was very similar to last year’s team. Last year, we felt we underachieved by missing the national championships.”

The Hokies finished 24th at the NCAA national championships at Riviera Country Club on Thursday, shooting a three-day team total of 890, 38-over par.

It was the first time Hardwick, in his 29th season at Tech, had led the Hokies to the national championships since 2002.

The top eight teams (Alabama, UCLA, Texas, California, San Diego State, Washington, Oregon and Kent State) advanced to match play Friday to determine the national champion.

Illinois sophmore Thomas Pieters shot 5-under to win the NCAA individual title.

Tech’s two top performers were freshmen. Michael Vincent finished tied for 45th at 6-over par, while classmate Trevor Cone was tied for 77th at 11-over.

Chalkley and senior Blake Redmond were a shot back, tied for 89th.

“It was very difficult,” Chalkley said of the Riviera course. “There weren’t many birdies out there other than the par 5s. You really had to play smart.”

The Hokies also played short-handed. In college golf, teams use five players, then count the top four scores. Tech played the last round and a half without junior Mikey Moyers, who withdrew during his round Wednesday because of illness.

But like everything else this year, the Hokies handled it.

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