MERIDIAN — The Northeast Mississippi Community College golf program has reached the pinnacle of excellence only two years after it was reinstated from a temporary shutdown.
The Tigers won the 2021 Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) championship after shooting just five-over-par as a team during the final round on Tuesday, April 19 at Briarwood Golf Club.
It is the first golf state title in school history and the first major championship for Northeast since capturing the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 crown at the Division III level in 2008.
“The kids have really practiced hard and put everything in they needed to do to get here,” said Tigers head coach Derek DeVaughn. “I knew waking up this morning that we had a very good shot because of the talent we have and I’m just proud of the kids for staying in there.”
Northeast was down by one stroke to host Meridian Community College following the opening day of the competition. Austin Lauderdale paced the Tigers with a 1-over-par 73 during the first round.
The Tigers quickly took the lead on the second day after going even-par overall on the front-nine. Tate Dickerson was two-under-par during that stretch with birdies on the fourth, sixth and eighth holes.
The back-nine proved more difficult for Northeast. However, clutch shots like Lauderdale’s lengthy eagle putt from just off the green on the par-5 No. 12 helped the Tigers fend off runner-up Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Northeast, which appears at No. 11 in the latest NJCAA Division II rankings by Golfstat, compiled a two-round score of 591. That was four strokes better than the defending champion Bulldogs.
A trio of Tigers landed on the all-tournament team, including Jake Kilcrease, Carson Wilder and Dickerson. Kilcrease topped all Northeast players with a 2-over-par 146, which put him in a stalemate for second place. He finished one shot behind medalist Matt Wilkinson from Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was Kilcrease’s second consecutive and third total runner-up result of the campaign.
“We all worked hard last year and never got the chance,” Kilcrease said. “It’s all just come together here in the end. We’re all very close friends and pretty good golfers. It’s just been a lot of fun this year.”
Dickerson and Wilder were part of a three-way tie for fourth with equal scores of 148. This is the sixth state title of Dickerson’s storied career after previously winning five at Booneville High School.
“This one feels special. It’s kind of overwhelming winning one in college,” said Dickerson. “This one we had to work hard for. Everybody’s come together and we feel really good.”
Lauderdale concluded the event in a tie for eighth with a 6-over-par 150. Garrett Gray rounded out the list of the Tigers’ entrants with an 80-76—156, which was tied for fifteenth in the individual standings.
Northeast qualified for the NJCAA District D Tournament with its victory in the MACCC Tournament. It will be held from April 27-28 at Reunion Golf and Country Club in Madison.