Michael Tait lines up a putt.. (TOM WYLIE/MTN Sports)

(RMC Athletics release)

SHELBY, Mont. – The Rocky Mountain College golf teams opened the new season with a sweep of both team titles at the MSU Northern Invitational that was played at the Marias Valley Golf and Country Club in Shelby, Mont. the past two days.

The Rocky Mountain men – currently receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Coaches’ Poll – trailed by nine strokes entering the final round of action on Tuesday. The Battlin’ Bears shot 281 to close the event and rallied for a three-shot victory over Lewis-Clark State (Idaho).

“I’m very proud of how we played today,” Rocky Mountain head coach Aaron Pohle said after the win. “Yesterday, we were not very disciplined mentally, but were able to stay within reach of the lead. Today we did a great job of staying present and making adjustments.”

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On the women’s side, No. 23 Rocky Mountain held a 15 shot lead after a 325 during Monday’s first round. The Battlin’ Bears secured the victory by shooting 304 on Tuesday for a total of 629.

“The women struggled with the changing weather yesterday and didn’t make the needed adjustments,” Pohle commented. “They came out today and trusted the game plan and played with confidence. It isn’t easy to play with the lead, but they did a good job of that today.”

Michael Tait led the way for the men’s comeback with his third-round 66. The low round of the tournament allowed Tait to make up seven strokes and tie Sean Benson of Montana Tech for the top of the individual leaderboard. Tait finished 5-under par despite shooting a 6-over 78 during Monday’s first round. He bounced back with a 67 during round two, the second lowest round of the week.

Benson would take medalist honors by defeating Tait of the first playoff hole.

Colton Murphy had matching rounds of 76 during the two round on Monday. He came back with a 2-under 70 on Tuesday to finish fifth with 222 strokes. His third-round score was tied for the second-best round of the day behind Tait’s 66.

Mitchell Thiessen tied for sixth after shooting 223 over the two days. Schaefer Paladichuk, playing as an individual, placed 12th by shooting 225. HoTae Kim tied for 17th with 229 strokes and Reece Nilsen shot 231 to place 22nd.

The Rocky women had four players finish in the top eight. Eryn Ellis finished second after a 3-over 147 during the 36 holes. Ellis shot the lowest round of the tournament by any player with a 70 during Tuesday’s second round.

Morgan O’Neil finished third with 158 strokes. She bounced back from a Monday 83 by shooting 75 on Tuesday. Hayden Flohr shot 80-80 to place fourth with her 160 strokes. Anna DeMars shot 169 to finish eighth.

Gina Kowalchuk from University of Providence was the women’s individual medalist after shooting 146.

The Battlin’ Bears are back in action next week when they travel to Post Falls, Idaho for the Hotel RL Classic that they co-host with MSU Billings. The event will be played at the Prairie Falls Golf Club on September 18-19.

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