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MG: NCAA Regional Recap - Day 1
Greg Sands has established himself as one of the top young coaches in the country. In 13 seasons as head coach of the Red Raider program, Sands has taken a good program and made it better.
There are 12 NCAA regional and six NCAA Championships berths, a top ten finish in 2010 and the program's first two PING All-America First Team honorees in 2006 and 2010. Those are the most visible of the accomplishments Sands has been responsible for since taking over the program in 2001. What falls beneath the radar is Sands' ability to provide his student-athletes with an outstanding education, reflected in in the fact that the team consistently ranks among the top academic programs in the Big 12 Conference.
Texas Tech's 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals (the longest active streak currently on campus) came in his 13th season at the helm as the Red Raiders earned a spot in the NCAA Columbus Regional. That stop in Columbus would not be all for the Red Raiders in 2012-13.
In a year where expectations weren't as high as in others, Sands turned in yet another remarkable coaching job as he led a group of one senior and five sophomores to the NCAA Championships in Atlanta. Tech earned one of 30 coveted spots in the championship with a fifth place finish in Columbus. In Atlanta, the Red Raiders got hot in the final round and ended up at No. 14 overall - marking the third highest finish in program history. Under Sands' guidance, two of Tech's top three finishes at the NCAA Championships have come during his tenure as head coach.
Tech's first trip back to the NCAA Championship followed NCAA Regional appearances in Greensboro (2012) and Tucson (2011).
The Red Raiders earned their highest finish since 1959 in June of 2010, when Tech wrapped up a seventh place finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships at The Honors Course in Chattanooga. Tech advanced to match play for the first time after completing an improbable comeback on the final day of stroke play. Tech's eighth place finish was also highlighted by the fact that Nils Floren was named to the PING All-America First-Team and he became just the second player in school history (both under Sands) to earn that pretigious honor.
The five NCAA Championship berths - 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 - mark the fifth through ninth times that a Tech team has advanced beyond the regional round and competed for a national championship. Prior to qualifying for the 2002 event in Columbus, Ohio, the last Red Raider team to compete at that level was the 1976 squad. Although the Red Raiders haven't won the coveted trophy, their path to these tournaments has been impressive.
En route to the 2010 NCAA Championships, Texas Tech secured its first regional championship in school history as the Red Raiders took down top-seeded Texas A&M at its home course in College Station at the South Central Regional. The Red Raiders finished 13-under 851 for the tournament which also set a school record for the lowest score for a Tech team in an NCAA Regional.
The 2008-09 campaign was another successful season in school history as Sands guided the team to two tournament wins and four top five finishes. Additionally, nine players posted top five finishes and two claimed medalist honors. The Red Raiders set the school scoring record for a 54-hole event with an 824 at the UTSA Invitational in the spring and shattered the school single-round record with a 266 in the same event - which Tech won by 20 strokes. All of these accomplishments came against one of the nation's top 20 schedules.
Texas Tech advanced to its fourth NCAA Championships appearance under Sands in 2009, following an impressive outing at the NCAA Southwest Regional in Austin. The Red Raiders carded a 2-under first round and led by 10 strokes to position itself for an opportunity to advance.
Of the 12-straight NCAA regional appearances, the West regional in 2002 ranks as the most dramatic. Then-senior Kyle Willmann stared down a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole in the final hole of regulation play. In a must-make situation, Willmann drained the putt, sending the team to a playoff, and ending a 26-year hiatus for the program in championship competition.
The Red Raiders fell short in three other appearances, before dominating the field at the 2006 East regional in Orlando, Fla. With 10 spots up for grabs, Tech positioned itself on the first day as one of the tournament's top five teams and didn't waver during the three-round event. The Red Raiders shot 9-over par for the event to finish in third place.
In his 13 seasons as head coach, Sands has led the team to 15 tournament titles. Consistently, his players have broken records and established themselves on the Texas Tech charts.
A native of Jacksonville, Texas, Sands was a member of the back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championship teams in 1997 and 1998 at TCU. He also was named Academic All-WAC Scholar-Athlete during the 1995-96 seasons.
Sands graduated from TCU in 1997 with an undergraduate degree in communications, along with a history minor. Sands' playing resume includes winning the Texas Collegiate Championships (Waterwood National in 1997) and co-champion of the Crown Colony Intercollegiate in 1997.
Sands was an All-Region player at Jacksonville High School and led his team to a third-place finish at the 4A State Championships in 1992. Sands and his wife, Stephanie, have three sons, Caden, Hudson and Harrison and a daughter, Reese.
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