On Day Two at the NCAA regionals in Louisville, Kentucky, every Southern Illinois men's golfer improved his score from the previous day, and as a result, the Salukis (+22) moved up one spot on Tuesday to 11th place in the standings.
Auburn (-15) and Oklahoma State (-7) are the top two teams in the field and the only schools to shoot under-par scores.
The top five teams after Wednesday's final round will advance to the NCAA championships. The rest of the top five features Baylor (Even), Iowa State (+2) and Louisville (+3).
"We came out with something to prove today and I was excited with what I saw early on," SIU coach Justin Fetcho said. "Everybody got off to a good start. We finished the round 5-over par, but we were 1-under par after 13 holes and tied with the No. 1 team in the country (Oklahoma State)."
The Salukis were led by senior Peyton Wilhoit (-1), who carded a 69, thanks to three birdies and 14 pars. He stands in 11th place on the leaderboard and still has a chance to grab the lone NCAA Championship spot reserved for the top individual on a team that does not advance. Presently, Arizona's Trevor Werbylo (-6) has that spot.
"Peyton definitely felt better about his ball striking today," Fetcho said. "He hit a lot of fairways and gave himself more opportunities. The pin placements are extremely difficult and he left himself on the correct side of the pin. I definitely believe he has the ability to earn that final spot. He's just needs to go out and play his game again, not force the issue."
After shooting a 75 yesterday, freshman Matthis Besard (+3) shot a 70 today with four birdies and three bogeys to move up to 28th place.
"This is a very difficult style course, and if you miss a fairway, there's a tall rough with the potential for nasty lies," Fetcho said. "It was a typical round for Matt, in which he hit a lot of fairways, capitalized on a couple putts. It's a great golf course for him and I think he can go out and produce another round like this tomorrow."
As a team, Southern is hoping for repeat performance of its MVC championship final round, in which it posted a remarkable 15 birdies and a 12-under par score on the back nine.
'If this is going to be our final round together as a team, let's go out the best we can," Fetcho said. "If we come out with the same look we had today, it's going to be a good day and we'll leave here with our heads held high."