December 5, 2017 11:04:11 AM
Jake Crosson wanted to find the right place to continue to grow his golf game.
Already one of the top high-school age players in the state of Mississippi, Crosson immediately liked Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston when he visited the campus in September.
Still, Crosson wanted to make sure. He said he had been thinking about Meridian C.C. for a while, so he wanted to take his time to make a final decision.
"It definitely was a hard decision because they both are the best schools in the state for golf at the moment," Crosson said. "I just had to go with the one I felt like was the best for me."
Crosson made the choice official Monday morning when he signed to play golf at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.
MGCCC finished second to Mesa C.C. at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Championship on May 23-26 at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. MGCCC led for the first three rounds before Mesa C.C. rallied in the fourth and final round. MGCCC has finished third, third, fourth, and second the last four years.
MGCCC's Colin Troxler won the individual title with a 2-under 282. Teammate Jackson Wedgeworth tied for third at 3-over 287. Troxler is playing at Louisiana. Last month, Wedgeworth signed with North Alabama.
Crosson said MGCCC's success in helping players move on to four-year schools was a primary reason he selected the school.
In the fall, MGCCC was ranked No. 1 in the Bushnell Golfweek NJCAA Division II Coaches Poll. MGCCC finished second to Meridian C.C. at the NJCAA Division II National Preview in October in Foley, Alabama.
Crosson had a standout junior season in which he won the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State championship with a two-round score of 142 on May 8-9 at the Country Club of Canton. As a team, New Hope carded a 664 to finish third behind Oxford and Germantown.
Prior to the state meet, Crosson earned seven medalist honors, including a round of 33 on Feb. 27 at Starkville Country Club, a round of 34 on March 23 at Elm Lake Golf Course, and another round of 34 on April 11 at Elm Lake.
Crosson said his junior year was a "big step forward" because he had been putting up good scores but really wasn't in contention earlier in his career. He said it was a gradual progression through the 2017 high school season as he practiced and put more work into his game so he could finish tournaments.
"It was more mental, going out there and working on the mental side of golf and working on my confidence," Crosson said.
Crosson followed up the victory at the state tournament by shooting a 1-under-par 71 and tying for fifth at the State Amateur qualifier at Big Oaks Golf Club in Saltillo. The finish secured him a spot in the State Amateur Championship at Canebrake Country Club in Hattiesburg. Crosson tied for 22nd (66-72-76--1-over 214) in his first appearance in the State Amateur Championship.
On June 20-21, Crosson finished first in the A Division with a 5-under 103 at the Patrick Farms Golf Club in Pearl to qualify for the Trusted Choice Big I National Championship on Aug. 7-10 at the Annandale Golf Club in Madison. Crosson tied for 67th with a 13-over 157 (79-78).
"I know how to win golf tournaments sometimes, and I just hope that carries over and I can get even better when I get there," Crosson said. "
New Hope boys golf coach Albert McBrayer said Crosson matured last season and "learned how to win." He said Crosson's growth mentally helped him gain confidence.
"Once he succeeded in winning some tournaments, he kind of turned it on," McBrayer said. "When he got in position to win, he finished it out in almost every case."
McBrayer, who also is an accomplished golfer, said Crosson has length off the tee and accuracy. He believes Crosson has the tools to move on to a four-year school if he continues to improve his chipping and putting.
Crosson said he plans to work on his short game in anticipation of his final year in high school. He said he hopes to continue his golf career at a four-year school, which is why he believes MGCCC is the perfect place for him.
"I can't wait to go play for the team next year because they have such a good record with being the No. 1 team in junior college," Crosson said. "I felt like it was the best school for me to play my best golf."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor