(Editor’s note: Carroll College media release)
HELENA – Carroll College head golf coach Bennett MacIntyre announced the signing of four prep athletes and a junior college transfer to Frontier Conference Letters of Intent.
Highlighting the list is Helena High standout Weslee Nehl and Missoula Sentinal product Sydnee Nowlen on the women’s side. On the men’s side, the Saints inked Hamilton’s Kylan Burch, Billings Central product Samuel Berry, and Stephen Santora, a standout from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College.
Montana athletes make up the bulk of the recruiting class, but Santora brings the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
He placed 10th at the California State Junior College Championship and was a first-team all-conference selection at Santa Rosa.
The Napa, Calif., native, was a three-time all-conference performer in high school and hit a 66 in his first round, en route to a third-place finish at the 2016 Santa Rosa City Championship. His handicap is .3.
Santora carries a 3.85 GPA and has been on the honor roll for the past three semesters.
“Stephen Santora is a big-time talent, a guy coming in with two years of eligibility remaining who can not only help be a leader right away but can give us some depth we just haven’t had recently,” MacIntyre said. “I was able to watch him play in a junior college tournament in Napa Valley a couple of years ago. He has such a steady game, a great attitude and loves to compete. He has put up some great scores on some difficult golf courses in California and will add a nice veteran presence with our returning Senior to be and All-Conference golfer Austin Egan.”
Despite being from wine country, he is not without connection to Carroll. He is childhood friends with Carroll basketball all-American Ryan Imhoff.
Joining Santora on the men’s team are Berry and Burch.
Berry carries a 4.1 handicap and finished fifth at state in 2016. He finished third in divisionals in 2016 and fourth in divisionals in 2015. He also placed fourth at the Yellowstone County Am in 2016.
He has a 3.7 GPA.
“Sam Berry is a multi-sport athlete out of Billings who will fit in nicely,” MacIntyre said. “He took fifth place at state for Billings Central with a couple of top-five divisional performances the last few years. He has one more summer of Legion Baseball before he will focus on golf full-time.”
Burch is a four-time letterman at Hamilton High. He helped lead the Broncs to state championships in 2014 and 2016 and second-place finishes in 2013 and 2015. He earned all-conference honors all four years.
He was also twice the Hamilton Golf Club Junior Club Champion.
He carries a 3.78 GPA and received academic all-state honors all four seasons.
“Ky Burch is another high academic student-athlete out of Montana, from a winning program in Hamilton,” MacIntyre said. “Ky is a mature kid who has seen a lot of improvement in his golf game. We’ve got a couple of freshmen coming in who will push our returning players for some playing time, and it should make everyone better and hopefully work hard this summer.”
On the women’s side, Nehl brings a strong resume, including a second-place finish at the Class AA state tournament. She is a four-year all-state performer and was twice named her team’s MVP. She has a 10 handicap and was the Southwest Montana Junior Golf Tour second-place finisher. She placed in the top three in every tournament.
She was also named academic all-state all four years and has a 3.8 GPA.
“Weslee is such a competitor and had a highly decorated high school career. I couldn’t be happier that she is coming to Carroll College to golf,” MacIntyre said. “It’s not easy to come in and play varsity right away as a freshman, but Weslee has what it takes and should provide a competitive jolt to our women’s team right away. You always want to get the best local student-athletes to your program, and Weslee will continue the tradition of great local players coming to golf at Carroll.”
Nowlen is a solid player from Missoula who participated in the Montana State Am Circuit. In high school, she notched top-five finishes in four tournaments, including a second-place finish in the Helena Invite. She also plays on the Missoula Junior Tour.
Nowlen excels in the classroom and carries a 4.0 GPA.
“We have had a great run with golfers from the Missoula area, and Sydnee is another one of those high-caliber athletes with an incredible academic background,” MacIntyre said. “Her golf game keeps improving, and she had multiple top-five finishes in high school. She’s a 4.0 GPA student that had her choice of many schools across the country, and we are fortunate she has chosen to pursue her academics at Carroll and play golf for us.”
The Saints closed out the season with a third-place finish by the Carroll women and a fifth-place finish by the men at the Frontier Conference Championship in Tempe, Ariz.