COLCHESTER, Vt. - Junior Matt Johnson (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury Regional) added another feat to a historic season on Friday, becoming the first men's golfer in the history of Saint Michael's College to earn a selection to the NCAA Division II Championship.
Eighty teams and 32 individuals from programs that did not qualify were chosen for the pool, as regionals will be conducted at four sites. Johnson was among eight individual picks, along with 20 teams, who will compete at the NCAA Atlantic/East Regional Championship at Totteridge Golf Course in Greensburg, Pa., on May 9-11, just an hour outside Pittsburgh. A minimum of two individuals and three teams from each of the four regionals head to the NCAA Championship finals at The Resort at Glade Springs in Daniels, W.Va., on May 20-24.
A team captain, Johnson will be competing against familiar company at the Atlantic/East Regional, as each of the other three individual qualifiers from the East Region hail from the Northeast-10 Conference, as do four teams. All of the 10 teams that qualified from the East were competitors of the Purple Knights' at some point during the 2018-19 school year, with Assumption College, Franklin Pierce University, Post University and Southern New Hampshire University appearing six times on the slate. Saint Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.) College was at four of the Purple and Gold's meets.
Last season, the top three teams and highest two unattached individuals at the Atlantic/East Regional advanced to the finals.
Johnson has already put together a memorable season, averaging 74.29 strokes per round while claiming five top-10 finishes during invitationals and a fourth-place showing in stroke play with Franklin Pierce in September. He has shot in the 70s during 12 of 14 rounds, matching his career low of 70 on two occasions. A six-time honoree on the NE10 Weekly Honor Roll, Johnson's scoring average is exactly three strokes better than his sophomore year figure (77.29), which was the lowest by a Purple Knight in at least 12 seasons.
Under fourth-year head coach Jason Bedard, Saint Michael's has continued showing signs of improvement, including as four Purple Knights turned in sub-80 scoring averages in 2018-19 while collecting individual top-30 performances 11 times at meets.
Saint Michael's student-athletes have found unprecedented success on the national stage in individualized sports over the past eight school years, a trend Johnson has aided:
- 2011-12: Fredrik Sandell '15 begins a still-active eight-year run of Alpine skiing sending at least one competitor to the NCAA Championship each season.
- 2012-13: Chloe Boutelle '14 becomes the first women's cross country runner - and the second male or female harrier in school annals - to qualify for the NCAA Championship.
- 2013-14: Behind Boutelle, the women's cross country squad becomes the first in program history to qualify for nationals.
- 2015-16: Saint Michael's sends a program-record three skiers - all from the Alpine program - to NCAAs. Guillaume Grand '19 claims the first All-America finish ever for a Purple Knight skier.
- 2016-17: Lindsay McNall '17 is the first swimmer in College history to earn a spot at the NCAA Championship as just the third male or female member of the swimming & diving programs to qualify. In the process, she becomes the first All-America finisher in the history of either team.
- 2016-17: Alpine skiing again sends three qualifiers to nationals, with Grand garnering his second All-America showing, on the same day as McNall's All-America performance: March 10.
- 2017-18: A school-record four Alpine skiers make their way to NCAAs, with two women qualifying for the first time.
- 2018-19: Alpine skiing resets its own program mark by qualifying five competitors for the NCAA Championship. Grand caps his career with his third All-America showing.
- 2018-19: Matt Johnson '20 becomes the first golfer in College history to qualify for the NCAA Championship.