MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State men's golf team is one of 15 programs from 15 different conferences preparing to compete in the annual Golfweek Conference Challenge in Burlington, Iowa.
The three-day, 54-hole tournament gets underway Sunday at the 7,360-yard, par-72 Spirit Hollow Golf Course with live scoring available at golfstat.com. Iowa will serve as the host school for the event.
In addition to the Hawkeyes (Big 10) and Cardinals (MAC), the field includes Campbell (Big South), Central Arkansas (Southland), Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun), Jacksonville State (Ohio Valley), Kansas (Big 12), Long Beach State (Big West), Missouri (SEC), San Francisco (West Coast), San Jose State (WAC), Tulsa (Conference USA), Wake Forest (ACC) and Xavier (Atlantic 10).
Six of those teams (Iowa, Jacksonville State, Long Beach State, San Francisco, Tulsa and Wake Forest) competed in NCAA Regionals last spring, while three (Iowa, San Jose State and Wake Forest) are currently receiving votes in the coaches poll.
Gasser tied for ninth place last weekend to lead Ball State in the Cardinals' fall opener at the Northern Intercollegiate. The Yorktown, Ind., product played the final 36 holes better than only one other golfer in the field at 1-over par.
Merkel, an NCAA Regional participant last spring, Stinson and Wilson were also part of the lineup last weekend that helped Ball State to a seventh place finish on one of the most challenging courses in college golf at the Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club. The field included eight teams that finished the 2011-12 season among the top 60 in the Golfstat rankings.
Blackwell, a true freshman from Buffalo, N.Y., competed as an individual in the season-opening event but will be playing for the first time as part of Ball State's five-member lineup at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
The Cardinals also competed in the event last year on the same course, finishing in seventh-place out of 15 teams. Merkel tied for fourth individually after breaking par in two of the three rounds. Ball State, Iowa, Tulsa and Xavier are the only returning teams from last year's field.This year's tournament gets started with 18 holes Sunday as golfers go off split tees beginning at 9 a.m. CT (10 a.m. ET). Monday's round will also start on split tees at 9 a.m., while Tuesday's final 18 holes will begin with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start.