Ottumwa -- Indian Hills first-year golf coach Nathan Weant concedes that the expectations for his squad couldn't be any higher going into this week's NJCAA Division I National Championship in Texas. That's what happens when you've been ranked No. 1 in the nation for seven polls and have captured the team title in eight of the 10 events you've played during the fall and spring seasons. And those expectations are especially high after a tremendous performance in their most recent competition, the district championship, in which the Warriors shot 39-under par and defeated the runnerup team by 27 strokes, while having four of the top five individual scores.
"My goal for the week as a coach," explained Weant, "is to slow things down for the guys and make sure that we settle into the same game plan that has led to the eight wins already this year. It's going to be a long week with lots of golf so not getting ahead of ourselves will be important. There are several other great teams playing so we can't take a day off. But I think as long as the guys stay in the present and stick to our plan we will be tough to beat."
The meet begins on Tuesday at the Rawls Golf Course in Lubbock, Texas, where Indian Hills came in second in the NJCAA Preview last October and then won the Arbor Hotels Classic to begin their spring campaign.
Indian Hills has qualified for the national meet every year since 1987 and won national titles in 2000, '11, '12, '14 and '15. They were second in last year's tourney and had the individual champion in Ricky Sanders, who is a key member of this year's squad.
"There will be plenty of factors that we need to ignore such as the national championship environment, the hot weather, and NCAA coaches spectating," Weant said. "But there are usually positives that come with distractions so we need to find them and use them as motivation. This is a team that has impressed me more and more as the year has gone on and they have shown they can handle multiple different kinds of pressure all season long."
Teams expected to challenge Indian Hills for the title include McLennan (Tex.), which won the Preview last fall, as well as Midland (Tex.), Central Alabama and Eastern Florida State, the next three teams after IHCC in the latest national rankings.
Play begins on Tuesday and there will be 18-hole rounds Tuesday through Friday.