Rocky Mountain College men to open NAIA National Championship Tuesday

(Editor’s note: Rocky Mountain College athletics release)

MESA, Ariz. – For the first time in school history, the men’s golf team at Rocky Mountain College is making back-to-back appearances at the NAIA National Championship.

“It is an honor to coach this group and for them to be able to make it to another national championship” said head men’s golf coach Aaron Pohle. “To accomplish what they have done over a short period of time is remarkable and really shows how hard they worked all season long.”

The Battlin’ Bears will play at the 2019 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship in Mesa, Ariz., May 21-24.

Tuesday’s  team will be composed of the same five golfers who finished 14th at nationals in 2018. Colton Murphy returns after making the national All-Tournament team and finishing 14th in the final individual standings at 2-under-par 69 last year. His finish was the highest finish of any Rocky golfer at the tournament in school history.

A year has since past and the team enters the field tomorrow feeling good about their chances.

“I think that with we have more confidence now coming back from nationals and seeing how we played last year with the same team,” said Mitchell Thiessen. “We know what it takes to win.”

Tuesday will open the finale of a season that saw Rocky men’s golf team win every Frontier fall tournament. Five Battlin’ Bears earned all-conference honors. Michael Tait, Reece Nilsen, and Murphy were selected first team while HoTae Kim and Thiessen were named second team.

At the 2018 Battlin’ Bears Invitational, the team recorded the lowest score in school history at 51-under-par 801. Nilsen finished the tournament with the lowest individual score in school history at 16-under-par 197.

At the 2019 Frontier Conference Championship in April, the Battlin’ Bears won the conference title for the second year in a row. Nilsen and Michael Tait were selected to the All-Tournament team after finishing in second and fourth respectively.

“When we are clicking, we can beat anyone,” said Nilsen. “We have the firepower to go super low in a round with everyone in our top five going under-par.”

Murphy agreed. “Every team should know that the Battlin’ Bears are gonna keep going until they are out of holes. We make a lot of birdies and just have to limit the mental mistakes.”

All five Battlin’ Bears are currently ranked in the NAIA’s top 150 according to the player rankings at golfstat.com [golfstat.com]. Tait is ranked No. 38 with an adjusted scoring average of 73.05. Nilsen is ranked No. 43 with a scoring average of 73.01. With an average of 74.05, Murphy is in 64th. Kim sits in 136 and Thiessen ranks 140.

“What makes this group so unique is how well they get along with each other and how well they compete as a team,” said Pohle.

“I came to Rocky with tournament being the goal every year.” said Nilsen. “This is what we work towards all year round. It doesn’t matter unless we play well at nationals.”

The first round of the 2019 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship begins tomorrow at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. Rocky Mountain College will tee off at 7:30 a.m. CDT.

Scott Breen

Scott Breen

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