There are two ways “minor” sports can excel at mid-major-level recruiting. Most of the great high school golfers either go to the power conferences or, if they are good enough, they just skate to the pros.
The way for mid-majors to flourish is by recruiting transfers and international players.
SIU’s head coach Justin Fetcho has obviously chosen the transfer route — kind of.
In the fall, Fetcho signed former Stetson University star Dirk Kuehler, who graduated from Stetson after averaging 75 strokes per round.
Hunter York, a local All-American, was signed by Fetcho this past November.
The Decatur native York also won the 1A level Illinois State Championship when he was in high school.
“I look for Hunter to step right in and make an immediate impact,” said Fetcho in November.
But the best was yet to come for Fetcho’s recruiting efforts this spring. Just a few weeks ago, the Dawgs inked their second Junior College All-American, Oliver Meek.
Meek is a combo of the two mid-major golf recruiter’s sources. The Tyler JUCO standout also played in England for several club teams until he got the chance to come to America and play for a scholarship.
Meek is a two-time Division I JUCO All-American. He finished in the top 15 at the recent NJCAA National Tournament.
Now Fetcho has finished his recruiting class with this past week’s signing of Dean Harpe of Mesa Community College in Arizona.
Harpe finished fifth individually at the NJCAA Tourney with rounds of 73-72-74 and 70. Harpe was named first team All-American and also to the 2017 NJCAA All-Tournament Team.
“We are excited to officially welcome Dean to the Saluki family,” said Fetcho. “I believe his experience of helping his team to a national championship will be huge for our program.”
Harpe is currently the No. 3 JUCO player in the country with a 71.86, 18-hole average. In 2015, Harpe won the Arizona Division III High School state championship.
SIU returns three of its top-four stroke-average leaders for next year and so will have a great chance to be competitive in the Missouri Valley — especially with Wichita State University leaving the conference.
Harpe’s acquisition is the icing on the golfing cake. And the transfer will show the way with his ability, and most of all his steady personality.
“Dean is now the third JUCO All-American that we added to our program for next year,” said Fetcho. “Harpe is a good ball-striker and handles his emotions well.”