By Chris Raimondi—Sports Editor
Bryant Odom was named head coach of Kennesaw State’s men’s golf team last week after former head coach Jay Moseley exited for Ohio State in early July.
Odom, a native of nearby Cartersville, Georgia and a former national champion at the University of Georgia, was appointed to the position exactly one month prior to the Owls’ first competition of the fall season when they head to Dalton, Georgia for the Carpet Capital Invitational Sept. 11.
“It’s a dream come true that I didn’t even think about,” Odom said. “This school has grown so much in the last few years, and when the opportunity was open I thought, ‘this is a chance to really get back to where I’m from and get in a very successful program.’ It was a no-brainer.”
Bryant noted his parents once attended KSU as well as a handful of siblings; however, Odom’s opportunity at KSU is more than a coming home party for him. The men’s golf team has reached the NCAA regionals five consecutive times from 2011 to 2015 and twice made it to the NCAA championships in 2011 and 2014. KSU’s golf team, under Moseley, reached a status unseen by any other time in the program’s history, and Odom believes he already has the necessary pieces to keep the momentum going in his first season.
“With the exposure that Jay has afforded the program, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be easy to continue the success, but the opportunity is there. The foundation is there,” Odom said.
KSU returns junior Teremoana Beaucousin and sophomore Fredrik Nilehn, both of whom Odom believes will be his top two players. Beaucousin was named the 2015 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year as a sophomore and the 2014 A-Sun Freshman of the Year. Nilehn was named to the A-Sun all-freshman team after his inaugural campaign with the Owls last season when he posted five top 10 finishes and two individual wins. Nilehn was the A-Sun golfer of the week twice last year, Beaucousin earned the honor once.
“It’s a young group, but it’s very experienced,” Odom said. “With Teremoana and Fredrik, these guys showed that they are going to be the top two players on the team most likely.” Making their case as top players for the Owls is junior Chris Guglielmo and incoming freshman Jake Fendt. Both players qualified for the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship last week.
“These guys are a little younger, but I think the talent and experience is there,” Odom said. “Expectation wise, I think we can jump right in and win some tournaments and really contend for conference.”
Odom has experienced what it is like to win at the collegiate level after a successful tenure at the University of Georgia as a player. The Bulldogs won the 1999 national championship and three SEC titles in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
After graduation, Odom played professionally from 2002-2005 and again in 2008. He competed on the NGA Hooters, Tarheel and Nationwide tours while winning the NGA Hooters Alabama Classic in 2003. Odom began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at UGA in 2010. He then became an assistant coach at Wisconsin from 2011 to 2013 before finally accepting the head coaching position at Western Carolina where he spent the last two seasons.
“The fact that it is a major division I athletics contender now right in my backyard, it’s amazing,” Odom said of KSU. “When I came on campus for the interview, there was a wow factor there. I could see why it was so successful. It is a great next step for me and somewhere I can be for a long time.”