HUTCHINSON — As Wichita State's Dustin Garza walked up the 18th fairway, he looked calm. As his putt rolled in giving Garza his seventh win this year, there wasn't even the slightest celebration. But that doesn't mean it wasn't meaningful.
Garza shot a tournament-best even-par 70 in his final round and finished with a 223 to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship by four strokes Tuesday at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The Shockers won their third consecutive MVC team championship and eighth in 11 years. WSU shot 922, 11 strokes better than Southern Illinois.
"Getting this team championship with these guys is something real special," Garza said. "It gives us our fourth win of the year. We weren't sure if we were going to make it, regionals were kind of on the line."
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After tough weather conditions Monday caused high scores, Garza took advantage early Tuesday. He was 2-under after five holes and other than a tough couple holes on the turn, he was solid.
"Getting a win is always special. People kind of contemplated the schedule we play, it's not so strong, but winning is winning," Garza said. "It's really hard, you can see this golf course we played is really, really brutal. Coming out here and getting a win and the team winning is just great."
WSU sophomore Anders Engell finished tied for second, his highest finish of the season. Engell and Drake's Brad Reierson shot 17-over 227. But when Garza and Engell met on the 17th tee box to shake hands, only one shot separated them.
"To have two guys from the same team battling it out is really, really nice. I knew where we stood as a team and it was all about us at the end, so it was good," Garza said.
Garza got hot and birdied the 17th while Engell fell short, making a double bogey on No. 18.
"Anders had a great tournament, he really did," WSU coach Grier Jones said. "He has not played very well this year and he played great. Obviously he was one of the reasons why we were able to win."
The 18th hole was a problem all day — the Shockers had a triple bogey, a double bogey and a bogey on the 18th.
"While I'm elated, and tickled and winning is great no matter what it is, I'm a little upset about our finish because champions finish," Jones said.
Patrick Scheil (fifth) and Jake Erickson (sixth) led Southern Illinois. Missouri State's Jack Courington, from Wichita, finished tied for 16th.
Freshmen Hunter Sparks (T-8th) and Tyler Gann (T-20th) gave WSU four finishers in the top 20.
Regionals are May 20-22, and Jones knows that means only having Garza around for a little while longer.
"Dustin has had an incredible career, he's been incredible," Jones said. "He battled all week long. It's good to see someone that didn't always battled that hard and now he does because if he is going to have any success at the next level he is going to have to battle every day."
Team results — 1. Wichita State (Dustin Garza 223, Anders Engell 227, Hunter Sparks 233, Tyler Gann 240, Rafael Becker 244) 922; 2. Southern Illinois 933; 3. Illinois State 944; 4. Drake 949; 5. Evansville 950; 6. Missouri State 957; 7. Creighton 966; 8. Northern Iowa 972; 9. Bradley 973.
Individual results- 1. Dustin Garza, WSU, 223; T2. Anders Engell, WSU, 227; Brad Reierson, Drake, 227; 4. Kyle Bermel, Northern Iowa, 228; 5. Patrick Scheil, Southern Illinois, 230; 6. Jake Erickson, Southern Illinois, 231; 7. John Rasmussen, Creighton, 232; T8. Jeff Kellen, Illinois State, 233; Jay McBride, Missouri State, 233; Micahel Sainz, Evansville, 233; Hunter Sparks, WSU, 233.