San Antonio – The St. Mary’s men’s golf program has a long, proud history of producing greatness in the classroom. But never before had the Rattlers done what they’ve done this year.
Four St. Mary’s golfers have been honored for their academic work, as Chris Becker, Sam Jernigan, Jeff Rein and Matt Vela all were selected as NCAA Division II Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars this week, the Golf Coaches Association of America announced.
“It’s just a tribute to what we’ve been doing,” coach Wes Skidmore said. “I felt like those four guys had a chance. It’s a tribute to their hard work, not just on the course but also in the classroom. It’s a good honor for St. Mary’s and, of course, for the golf program.”
To be eligible for the award, a golfer must be a junior or senior who competed in at least two full years at the collegiate level, participated in 70 percent of his team’s rounds, maintained a stroke average under 78.0 and held a grade-point average of at least 3.2.
Only Findlay also produced four All-America Scholars among D-II schools, and no other university produced more than two honorees. Forty-nine Division II golfers were named All-America Scholars this season.
It marks the second straight year Rein and Vela were chosen for the award, and the fifth time in the past six years that St. Mary’s produced at least two All-America Scholars. In all, the Rattlers have had 13 All-America Scholars over the past nine years.
Rein, a senior from San Antonio, was a marketing major, while Vela, a fellow senior from the Alamo City, was an exercise and sport science major. Both are now planning to pursue professional careers.
Meanwhile, Becker, a junior from San Antonio, is majoring in corporate financial management. Jernigan, also a San Antonio native, is majoring in business.
Vela, the Heartland Conference Sportsmanship Male Athlete of the Year and Men’s Golfer of the Year, also made the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team earlier this season. He, Rein and Jernigan all were named All-Heartland Conference.
Rein led the Rattlers with a 72.85 stroke average in 2010-2011, while Vela shot 73.48. Jernigan maintained a 76.00 average and Becker shot 76.79.
The St. Mary’s men’s golf program, of course, is noted for having won the 2009 NCAA Division II national academic championship under Skidmore.