Gaines Names First Team All HL; Sparks Freshman of the Year
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HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. (4/22/2017) -- University of Detroit Mercy men's golf senior Kyle Gaines (Oxford, Mich. / Brother Rice) earned First Team honors and rookie Scott Sparks (Shelby Township, Mich. / Macomb Lutheran North) was selected the Freshman of the Year as the Horizon League held its annual championship banquet on Saturday evening.
It is the second time in his career that Gaines has been tabbed All-League as he was also All-Conference as a sophomore, while Sparks is the 10th Titan in school history to earn the Freshman of the Year accolade – known as Newcomer of the Year until 2014.
Gaines – the 12th Titan to earn All-League twice in their career – led the squad during the regular season and was 10th in the Horizon League with a career-low 74.77 average. He played in all 26 rounds and registered 24 card scores in the 70's or 60's. A starter since his freshman season, he was at the top of the line-up all season long and posted six top-20 finishes, four top-10s and captured his first collegiate victory, one of just four players in the HL this year to win an event.
He carded a career-low round of 68 at the Crusader Collegiate – taking seventh place in the tournament with a 221 (76-76-68) – before tallying a career-best 213 (71-69-73) at the Cleveland State Invitational, a top 20 mark in school history. He would go on to win the Bulldog Florida Invitational in come-from-behind fashion in the last few holes to earn medalist with a 145 (71-74).
Sparks was a member of the starting line-up since day one and finished the regular season second on the squad and 18th in the Horizon League with a 75.65 average. He totaled 26 rounds on the links and had scores in the 70's or lower in 24 rounds, with his season-best of 68 at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate. He tallied a career 54-hole low of 224 (73-75-76) at Tennessee State's Big Blue Intercollegiate.
The rookie placed in the top 20 on four occasions with one top-10 effort in leading the team and tying for fourth at Notre Dame's Battle at the Warren with a 146 (73-73). He also led the squad in his collegiate debut, tying for 12th at the Notre Dame Kick-Off Challenge with a 147 (74-73).
Sparks is the first Titan to win the award since Wil Wittmann was selected in 2013 and his scoring average was the lowest by a freshman since Gaines secured a 75.28 in 2014.