May 6, 2014
IRVING, Texas - On the heels of the team's first-ever Conference USA championship, head Rice University men's golf coach Justin Emil was named 2014 C-USA Coach of the Year and Kevin Reilly claimed Freshman of the Year honors, the league office announced on Tuesday.
Reilly, who also netted second team all-conference honors, leads the Owls in stroke average (72.56) and is one of just two players to compete in all 32 rounds in 2013-14. He was named the league's Golfer of the Week on Feb. 26 after taking ninth place at the Bayou City Collegiate Championship with a 71-71-69-211 (-5).
His 66 in the final round at The Invitational at The Ocean course in October was the third lowest round score in program history. The round also established a new tournament record. In 11 tournaments in his rookie campaign, the Oviedo, Fla. native led Rice seven times and ranked second on the squad twice more.
Reilly turned in his top finish of the season last week in Edmond, Okla., helping the Owls to their first conference championship since 1939. He tied for fourth place with a 70-69-74--213 (+3) at Oak Tree Country Club to mark his fourth top-10 finish of the year.
In his third season leading the program, Emil's squad earned eight top-10 team finishes this season. The Owls improved by 5.25 strokes per round as a team over 2012-13, including four top-10 finishes. A league-high nine golfers earned places on the Conference USA Commissioners' Honors Roll this season, including a pair of C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal winners in Trey Johnson and Paul Saad.
Emil led the Owls through adversity in grieving the loss of former teammate James Ragan, who inspired the entire Rice community, and passed away on the first day of the spring season after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Rice's win at the C-USA Championship was its first in nine years in the league. The victory also marked the team's first tournament win since 2010.
UAB's Paul Dunne earned Golfer of the Year honors and East Carolina's Wes Conover was named the league's top newcomer.
The Owls wrap up final exams and turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament this week. Rice earned the 12th seed at the Raleigh Regional, which runs from May 15-17.