NORTH AUGUSTA — Dakota Bailey almost didn’t want to let go of the 2014 National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships team trophy at the conclusion of the tournament last month because he liked the way it felt in his hands.
After playing for Georgia Regents’ B-team for years, he wanted to savor his first win as part of the championship-level team. On April 19, the Jaguars secured the school’s second national championship with a six-stroke win over Ferris State.
At the Hippodrome Disc Golf Complex on Thursday, Bailey, flanked by the rest of the 2014 national championship team, said he still looks back at photos of the team hoisting the trophy and smiles.
“I haven’t picked (the trophy) back up, but I really want to,” he said with a laugh. “I look at that picture all the time and watch the video on YouTube of us jumping in the lake and it never gets old.”
A small crowd formed around the Hippodrome’s leaderboard for a brief question-and-answer session with the team Thursday as the school celebrated its first national championship post-consolidation.
Though most of the names were removed from the leaderboard at the conclusion of the tournament last month, the Jaguars’ final score of 93-under 636 remained in the No. 1 spot.
The championships debuted in 2007 with six teams, most of which hailed from the Southeast. This year’s tournament featured 96 teams from more than 60 schools from across the country. It’s classified as a major by the Professional Disc Golf Association.
In 2010, competing as Augusta State, the team soundly defeated Oregon to claim its first national championship with a team led by four-time All-American Jason Lynn. He told the crowd Thursday he was proud to have accomplished the feat
Lynn, who nearly called it quits after last year’s sixth-place finish, said the atmosphere the tournament brings is one he couldn’t turn down. After some soul searching, he returned this year for his sixth and final tournament.
“The pageantry grows every year as well as the coverage,” he said. “To pass up on the chance to play in something this special, for lack of a better word, would have been stupid. It was a real treat to go out a national champion. To win this thing twice is even better.”
Two years ago, Georgia Regents nearly lost its eligibility to compete in the tournament after mismanaged paperwork almost forced the club to be inactive for a year.
But after working diligently with school officials, the team returned to active status in time for the 2013 tournament.
With those troubles behind them, team captain John Baker said he is glad to have represented at the highest level of collegiate disc golf. Winning a national championship doesn’t hurt either, he said.
“I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”