KANSAS CITY, Mo – The Owls of Williams Woods (Mo.) open the season as the No. 1 ranked team in the 2014-15 NAIA Men's Golf Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, the National Office announced Friday. William Woods, who was ranked third in the postseason poll last May, received 16 first-place votes and 527 points.
The top billing marks the first time in school history that the program has started the season in the No. 1 position, dating back to 2000. The Owls look to become just the second institution in NAIA history – joining Oklahoma City – to go wire-to-wire being the top-ranked squad in preseason and winning the national championship.
Last year in the 2014 NAIA Men's Golf National Championships, the Owls finished tied for third overall at plus-10 (874), nine strokes behind national champion Coastal Georgia. Senior Julian Taylor and sophomore David Houlding return to the course for William Woods fresh off their top-20 finishes in last year's championships.
As a team, the Owls have soared in the young season, winning all four tournaments they have played thus far – most recently in the William Woods Fall Invitational on Oct. 6. The Owls shot 11-under par.
Wayland Baptist (Texas) comes in at No. 2, earning 500 points and one first-place vote. This is the highest the Pioneers – last year's preseason No.1 – have been ranked since claiming the top spot in the 2014 final ratings on May 1. That release was the fifth-straight edition Wayland Baptist was the top school.
The rest of the top five includes No. 3 British Columbia (496 points), fourth-ranked Coastal Georgia (481 points) – the defending national champions – and No. 5 Oklahoma City (461 points). British Columbia and Coastal Georgia received one first-place vote apiece.
There was quite a bit of shuffling within the poll compared to last year's postseason rankings, as teams switched spots all over the board. No. 15 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) was the biggest riser, vaulting 10 spots from No. 25 in the postseason ratings. No. 17 Webber International (Fla.), 19th-ranked Northwood (Fla.) and No. 24 Thomas (Ga.) all fell six positions from the May 23 release.
The highest-ranked newcomer is No. 11 Victoria (B.C.). Six other fresh faces joining Victoria in the poll include – No. 14 Dalton State (Ga.), No. 18 The Master's (Calif.), No. 21 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), No. 22 Union (Ky.), No. 23 Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) and No. 25 Indiana Wesleyan.
Twelve conferences/A.I.I./unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Preseason Top 25, led by five from The Sun Conference. The unaffiliated group comprised of the Red River Athletic Conference and the Sooner Athletic Conference is second with four ranked schools.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, A.I.I. and unaffiliated groups.
For the entire 2014-15 Coaches' Top 25 Poll ratings calendar, click here. The first regular-season rating will be revealed on March 13, 2015.
Notes: (All information dates back to 2000) William Woods (Mo.) is making its first-ever No. 1 appearance… The Owls are one of 10 teams all-time to hold the No. 1 ranking… Oklahoma City leads the NAIA with 38 all-time No. 1 rankings, followed by former member Oklahoma Christian (28) and Texas Wesleyan (5)… Only Wayland Baptist (Texas) and Coastal Georgia appeared at No. 1 in 2014… No. 5 Oklahoma City has never been ranked outside of the top five… Oklahoma City (2010, 2004, 2003, 2002) is the only Preseason No. 1 team to go on to win the National Championships during the same season.
2014-15 NAIA Men's Golf Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll (Nov. 7)
SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)
William Woods (Mo.) (16)
Wayland Baptist (Texas) (1)
British Columbia (1)
Coastal Georgia (1)
Johnson & Wales (Fla.)
Grand View (Iowa)
Cal State San Marcos
USC Beaufort (S.C.)
Dalton State (Ga.)
Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)
Mount Mercy (Iowa)
Webber International (Fla.)
The Master's (Calif.)
Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
Others Receiving Votes: Rocky Mountain (Mont.), 82; Texas at Brownsville, 79; Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), 74; Oklahoma Wesleyan, 59; Bethany (Kan.), 54; Corban (Ore.), 40; AIB (Iowa), 26; Missouri Baptist, 18; Westminster (Utah), 15; Culver-Stockton (Mo.), 12; SCAD Savannah (Ga.), 7; Midland (Neb.), 5; Bellevue (Neb.), 3; St. Thomas (Texas), 3.
^ 2014 NAIA Men's Golf Coaches Postseason Top 25 Poll (May 23, 2014)