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After guiding the Sam Houston Bearkats to the most successful season in program history, Brandt Kieschnick has been recognized as the top coach in the country.

On Wednesday, the Golf Coaches Association of America awarded Kieschnick with the Dave Williams Award for the top Division I coach in the country.

"I am so humbled to receive this award and words can't express how thankful I am," Kieschnick said. "To be recognized by your peers is truly an honor! I'm so proud of this program and our team!! This is a reflection of the hard work that was put in by our guys and our coaches, Tommy Chain and Robert Thompson. Everyone shares in this recognition."

After qualifying for the NCAA championships for the first time in program history, the Bearkats missed the match play round by one spot, finishing in a tie for 9th.

They closed out the year ranked No. 16 by GolfStat, the highest ranking in school history. The previous best in school history was 53rd, also under Kieschnick.

"What Brandt has done for this program has been truly remarkable,' said director of athletics Bobby Williams. "Under his direction, Sam Houston has become one of the top golf programs in the country. The best part about it, is he has done it the right way, building great golfers and great men along the way. I couldn't be more proud of him for this honor."

This past season, The Bearkats won their third straight Southland Conference title under Kieschnick and fifth league crown overall. They qualified for the Stillwater Regional, the fifth regional appearance for Sam Houston.

In Stillwater, the Bearkats played the final round with just four golfers, and still managed to qualify for the national championships. With All-American William Holcomb and Jack Randle sidelined, the Kats rallied to shoot a 295 on the final round to finish fourth in the regional. 

At the NCAA Championship at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Kats carried that momentum, shooting an opening round 2-under and were in second place after 18 holes. They were one of three teams to shoot under par in the opening round.

After 54 holes, the Kats made the cut as one of the final 15 teams remaining in the field, ultimately falling short of the match-play round by seven strokes. Holcomb, who shot two rounds in the 60s at Greyhawk, finished in a tie for 8th.

"None of this would be possible without the commitment to this program from so many people," Kieschnick said. "I want to thank Bobby Williams for giving me the opportunity for allowing me to return to my alma mater and coach. Also, the commitment made by Robert and Erin Steele to allow us to build one of the best golf and training facilities in the country has been an integral part in helping us compete at the national level!"

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