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MSU Billings wraps up men's, women's GNAC Championships

MSUB Irvin Messmer.png
Posted at 10:20 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 16:12:41-04

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Notching a top-10 finish in the final event of her Montana State University Billings career, senior Tierney Messmer took seventh place at the 2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women’s Golf Championships Tuesday afternoon at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course.

Messmer shot a 6-over-par 77 on Tuesday, finishing the two-round event with a total of 156 (79-77) for her best-ever finish at the conference event. Players battled a relentless wind howling off the bordering Lake Coeur d’Alene, which made for harsh playing conditions for the majority of the round on the par-71, 5,707-yard course. “These past four years have been amazing, and it truly has been the best experience I ever could have imagined,” said Messmer, a native of Sidney who began her career at MSUB in the fall of 2018. “I have been blessed with the best coaches and teammates, and I have gotten to play such beautiful courses and make great friends.”

The final round of Messmer’s career included three birdies, two of which came on par-5 holes. She finished the event strong, with two pars and a birdie on her final three holes to solidify a top-10 finish. Messmer played in 59 rounds throughout her four-year career as a Yellowjacket, and her career scoring average of 82.15 strokes per round ranked seventh in program history. “I’d really like to thank the past and present coaches at MSUB, including Kevin Woodin, Jeff Allen, Marcus Drange, Garrett Woodin, Steven Falls Down, and Adam Buie for their guidance, believing in us, and for all they do to make MSUB golf such a joy. I want to thank all of my past and present teammates who have become best friends, and also my parents for all of their support along the way.”

Close behind Messmer in 12th place was fellow senior Kinsey Irvin, who wrapped up her four-year career with a two-round total of 162 (78-84) at the conference event. Irvin completed the tournament with a pair of birdies, and finished her career with back-to-back pars on her final two holes. “These last four years have been the best four of my life,” said the Lewistown native, who entered MSUB’s program in the fall of 2018. “I have met some of the coolest people from all over the world, played many awesome golf courses, and had the best coaches and teammates I could have possibly asked for.”

Irvin competed in 61 rounds over her 30-career events, and her career scoring average of 82.75 strokes per round ranked 10th in school history. “As I walked down my last hole today and hit my last putt, I couldn’t hold back the tears,” said Irvin. “It’s such a bittersweet feeling knowing that this part of my life is coming to an end, but I have a ton of unforgettable memories to hold onto forever. All of my teammates over the last four years, my fellow seniors that have been with me since the beginning, my six coaches, and the MSUB golf program will forever hold a special place in my heart. I’m so proud to be a ‘Jacket for life.”

Also completing her MSUB career on Tuesday was senior Jalen Wagner, who finished in 20th place with a two-round score of 172 (83-89). Wagner’s final birdie as a Yellowjacket came on the par-5, 448-yard 15th hole, and she finished her round soundly with a pair of pars. Wagner earned appearances in 17 events throughout her four seasons with her hometown university, and finished with a career scoring average of 89.86 strokes per round. “These past four years as a Yellowjacket have given me the chance to play amazing courses, create great memories, and build lifelong friendships,” said Wagner, a Billings native. “I am forever grateful for MSUB golf as well as the great teammates and coaches I have had along the way. These past four years have been some of the best I could have asked for, and I’m forever thankful that I made a last-second decision to become a Yellowjacket for life.”

“It was rather bittersweet to watch Jalen, Tierney, and Kinsey finish today,” said MSUB head coach Adam Buie. “We are going to miss all three of them significantly. All three of them have been really strong role models and leaders throughout their time at MSUB.”

Competing in the GNAC Championships for the first time in their careers were sophomore Brennan Larson and freshman Meilyn Armstrong. Armstrong finished in a tie for 22nd place with a 175 (86-89), and Larson placed 24th with a score of 180 (93-87).

As a team the Yellowjacket shot a two-round score of 663 (326-337), and took fourth place among the five teams competing. “It was really cool to be back at Coeur d’Alene,” Buie said on the tournament returning to its longtime home after being held at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., last year. “Everyone on the team likes the experience of coming up here and playing a really nice golf course. I was very happy with my first GNAC Championship experience. The Coeur d’Alene Resort is a top-tier course, and it is really special that we get to have our conference tournament at a facility like that.”

Elise Sumner of Western Washington University won the tournament, with a two-round score of 149 (76-73) to top the field of 25 players. The Vikings claimed the team title with a team score of 615 (307-308), holding off second-place Simon Fraser University by 10 strokes.

Meanwhile, making an impression in his GNAC Championships debut, MSUB junior Dawson Strobel took sixth place after the final round of competition on Tuesday.

Strobel posted a three-round score of 218 (71-73-74), including a 3-over-par 74 his final time through the course on a blustery, cold Tuesday morning. “The day was certainly a grind,” said Strobel, after the best three-round score of his career. “Dealing with a two-club wind on a narrow course is super intimidating, but I felt that I limited my mistakes fairly well. It is tough not to feel like I left a few shots out there with the experience I have on that course and having a few three-putts today. But I’m happy with how I finished and am excited for next year.”

Strobel kicked off his final round of the tournament with a birdie on the par-5, 520-yard first hole, and navigated the tricky conditions to a 2-over-par 37 on the front-nine. He worked around one miscue on the back, carding seven pars and a birdie on the par-5, 491-yard 15th hole to post a 1-over-par 37. Strobel’s 10 birdies in the tournament were the most on the team and tied for the sixth-most in the field. “Dawson was really impressive this week in his first conference tournament, finishing in sixth place,” said Buie. “He worked his way into the lineup this spring after just missing each tournament in the fall, and he played some really good golf for us.”

Tying for 12th place were seniors Riley Kaercher and Riley Lawrence, who shot identical scores of 223 (78-68-77). Kaercher wrapped up his notable, five-year career with the Yellowjackets with a pair of birdies on Tuesday – on the par-3, 119-yard fifth and the par-4, 254-yard 17th. “My time here at MSUB has been the time of my life,” said the Billings native, who entered MSUB’s program as a freshman in the fall of 2017. “I have met a lot of great people and lifelong friends. I’m really going to miss being part of this team.”

Both of Lawrence’s birdies came on the opening three holes, and he had nine total in the event. “MSUB has meant so much to me in many ways,” said Lawrence. “I came here looking to play on a team that was competitive, which I found, but it has also become a family. Seeing how much the team has grown together was great, and the schooling was good as well. Overall my experience at MSUB was awesome and went by too fast.”

Two strokes behind was fellow senior Caleb Trost, who also wrapped up his five-year career on Tuesday. Trost limited the damage to nothing worse than a bogey in his final collegiate round, and made two birdies on the back-nine on the way to an even-par 36. “For five years it has been an honor to represent MSUB,” said Trost, who entered the program with his former Billings West High School teammate Kaercher. “This program has meant a lot to me and I’m happy I could be part of it through the highs and lows. I am proud of how much this program has grown and I know the future is bright for all of our athletes.”

Also competing for the Yellowjackets on Tuesday was sophomore Blake Finn, who took 25th place with a three-round score of 245 (81-78-86). “Today is a happy and sad moment at the same time, to see the Rileys and Caleb come in,” said Buie. “Those three have been a big part of establishing our program as a contender not only in the GNAC but in the west region. We are definitely going to miss their presence quite a bit in the lineup moving forward.”

Western Washington University’s Aidan Thain broke the GNAC record for three-round score with a 199 (67-64-68), on his way to winning the championship by 16 strokes. The Vikings also claimed the team title in a landslide victory, with a three-round total of 854 (281-277-296).

The Yellowjackets, who entered the tournament ranked 11th in the latest NCAA D2 West Region rankings, will hold out hope to receive a spot in the top-10 when the regional playoff field is announced on Friday.

2022 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men’s Golf Championships

Men's Final Results – April 19, 2022
Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Team – 1. Western Washington, 854 (281-277-296); 4. MSU Billings, 888 (302-283-303). Individuals – 1. Aidan Thain, Western Washington, 199 (67-64-68); 6. Dawson Strobel, MSUB, 218 (71-73-74); T12. Riley Kaercher, MSUB, 223 (78-68-77); T12. Riley Lawrence, MSUB, 223 (78-68-77); T14. Caleb Trost, MSUB, 224 (75-74-75); 25. Blake Finn, MSUB, 245 (81-78-86).

Women's Final Results – April 19, 2022
Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Team – 1. Western Washington, 615 (307-308); 4. MSU Billings, 663 (326-337). Individuals – 1. Elise Sumner, WWU, 149 (76-73); 7. Tierney Messmer, MSUB, 156 (79-77); 12. Kinsey Irvin, MSUB, 162 (78-84); 20. Jalen Wagner, MSUB, 172 (83-89); T22. Meilyn Armstrong, MSUB, 175 (86-89); 24. Brennan Larson, MSUB, 180 (93-87).