Coach Mark Guhne did not really know what to expect from his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga golf team when the Mocs first put tees in the ground last fall.
After all, he'd graduated three significant seniors last May and had just one upperclassman returning for this year - junior Stephan Jaeger.
But UTC heads into the Southern Conference tournament this Sunday as one of the favorites because the freshmen have been impressive.
"When we started the year, we knew that [sophomore] Steven Fox and Stephan Jaeger could compete with anybody in the country," Guhne said. "But when you have three freshmen in the lineup, you don't know what to expect. But both of those experienced guys have been great leaders."
UTC is ranked No. 36 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, which is 50 spots better than UNC Greensboro, the next-best-ranked SoCon school.
All of the SoCon men's squads will gather for competition Sunday through Tuesday at the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence. The winner gets an automatic bid to one of six NCAA regional sites. UTC is almost assured - a 99 percent probability - of a spot in a regional based on its ranking.
"I had no idea how our freshmen would step up and play," Guhne said. "There are some pretty good teams this year, teams more experienced than us.
"Greensboro is having a good year. Charleston has been playing pretty good. And you know that Furman and Georgia Southern are always going to be ready to play this tournament.
"I think it's going to be tough."