TURLOCK -- With no leader to carry the young Cal State Stanislaus golf team, the Warriors learned to pull together.
They seem to have clicked at the best possible time, combining to win their own Hanny/Stanislaus Invitational with the the postseason just ahead.
The Warriors shot 309 in blustery conditions at the Turlock Golf and Country Club, eclipsed only by San Bernardino's 298 on Tuesday.
Stanislaus won with a three-round total of 882, three strokes better than the Coyotes, with Teddy Schrier tying for third with a 216. Senior Jake Koppenberg of Western Washington was the medalist at 70-71-72--213.
"This is a good momentum builder," first-year coach John Cook said. "We haven't had a standout star. We've been a team. We're gaining confidence at the right time. Confidence has been an issue this year."
It was Cook's first victory, and he'll be running 7½ miles to celebrate.
The Warriors ran half a mile for each team it lost to in all their spring tournaments. Since February, Stanislaus finished fourth, seventh and tied for fifth twice, ensuring some running each of their three conditioning days in the following week.
After topping the 16-team field Tuesday, Cook will be the one logging some miles.
"It was a good team victory," Cook said. "We needed a good finish to solidify our spot in regionals. We had to make sure the teams below us didn't jump ahead. This is a good momentum builder."
Stanislaus entered the week ranked seventh in the West Region. The top 10 teams go to the NCAA Division II West Region tournament in Lincoln, Neb., from May 4-6. The Warriors take the Hanny victory into next week's California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in Paso Robles.
Stanislaus won the team trophy for the 23rd time in 36 years. The group win was the only thing that made Atwater's Schrier crack a smile Tuesday afternoon.
The freshman from Buhach Colony High led after the first two rounds, but shot a 77 in 26-mph winds Tuesday.
Schrier didn't try to hide his disappointment at not being able to match his scores of 68 and 71 from Monday's first two rounds.
"I thought the lead would play in my favor," Schrier said. "If I played steady golf, it would be hard for people to beat me. It didn't work out that way. I made a lot of mistakes."
Schrier three-putted two holes on the front nine and four-putted on hole 13. While the wind made it hard to judge shots on the green, Schrier said the weather wasn't totally to blame.
"I gave myself a couple good chances," Schrier said. "The last couple holes set up well for me. I just wasn't able to finish.
"The team win definitely helps out. Everyone played really well in the second round. It helped to have a big enough lead."
Stanislaus entered the final day with an eight-stroke lead, shot on a still Monday. Cook said all the golfers are getting more consistent, and it showed as junior Danny Hoff tied for ninth (76-67-77--218) and Trevor Blair (74-71-77--222) tied for 12th. Bryan Kiss was 15th at 76-70-78--224.
Experience may have helped Koppenberg win his second tournament of the season and help Western Washington finish third. The senior steeled himself for the wind's tricks and was satisfied he didn't let the conditions beat him.
"I knew I was going to make a few bogeys," Koppenberg said. "I tried not to let it get to me when it did. I knew if I could make even par I could have a pretty good day."
Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at 578-2300 or email@example.com.