(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Featuring a lineup balanced with returning experience and incoming talent, the Montana State University Billings women’s golf team is set to take on the 2018-19 season with a positive outlook.
Opening their campaign last week at the Yellowjacket Fall Invitational, MSUB placed second among a field of five teams at their home event at Lake Hills Golf Club. MSUB is in action again next week, playing at the Western New Mexico University Mustang Invitational on Sept. 24-25 in Goodyear, Arizona. The two-round event will take place at the Golf Club of Estrella, with 18 holes being played both Monday and Tuesday of next week.
“I am looking for us to show a lot of improvement throughout the fall, and it will be interesting to see how the team does in Arizona in their first big event,” head coach Kevin Woodin said. “There is always a strong Division II field at that tournament. All of our players will play at the Rocky Invitational, and then we will send a strong team to the Washington double-event. Both of those courses in Washington demand both accuracy off the tee and great shot-making around the greens.”
The ‘Jackets will return home for the Rocky Mountain College Invitational, set for Oct. 1-2 at Peter Yegen Golf Club in Billings. The final two tournaments of the fall season will run Oct. 5-9 in Washington, as the MSUB women will play at both the Saint Martin’s University Invitational and the Western Washington University Invitational. Fall action concludes in Billings on Oct. 18-20, with the Leslie Spalding Cup and match play against Rocky.
Leading the way for the Yellowjackets will be fourth-year senior Shealyn Hafer, who was the team’s top performer with a scoring average of 80.2 strokes per round in 2017-18. Competing in all 17 events as a junior, Hafer had three top-10 finishes and a pair of top-five performances, while posting a season-low score of 75.
“We have a strong women’s team this year,” said Woodin. “I like the experience we have with Shealyn Hafer, being a fourth-year senior on our team. She is going to be a great leader, and she is a consistent player who has worked hard at her game. She has improved quite a bit, and I look for her to have an excellent season.”
Fellow senior Sarah Schroefel also played in all 17 rounds in her first year with the ‘Jackets in 2017-18, and she ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 84.6 strokes per round a season ago. Schroefel’s best finish as a junior was a tie for fifth place at the Yellowjacket Spring Invitational.
“Sarah had a consistent year last year, and I look for her to be even better this season,” said Woodin.
Getting their collegiate careers off to a great start at the Yellowjacket Fall Invite last week were true freshmen Tierney Messmer and Kinsey Irvin, who each finished in the top-10 at the event. Messmer claimed a tie for third place, after posting back-to-back sub-80 rounds and a two-round total of 157. The Sidney, Montana, native figures to compete among MSUB’s top spot all year long.
Irvin, a native of Lewistown, Montana, was close behind and also posted a sub-80 score with a 78 in her opening round. Irvin will join Messmer and Hafer within MSUB’s top-three for the upcoming tournament next week.
“Kinsey and Tierney are each ranked in the top-three on our team at this point, and they both have a lot of talent,” Woodin commented. “It was good to see them get off to a good start with our fall invite in Billings. They both have the ability to play the longer college courses at a high level.”
Also returning to MSUB’s lineup with experience are sophomores Renae Heisler and Sydney Rochford, who will both compete for spots among the team’s rotation as well. Heisler posted a scoring average of 87.3 strokes per round, and was in the lineup for all nine events as a freshman in 2017-18. Rochford competed in four events and eight total rounds in her first collegiate season, and posted a scoring average of 93.6 strokes per round.
Kylee Knobloch saw action in one event as a freshman in 2017-18, and new to the team this year is Billings native Jalen Wagner after graduating from Senior High School.
“Our depth is much better this year, and we are going to have a battle for positioning all year,” Woodin said. “Renae and Sydney got a lot of good experience last year, and we have two players in Jalen and Kylee who give us great depth. That strong competition in practice will make us better as a team.”
The ‘Jackets will look to build towards the 2019 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships, which are scheduled for April 22-23 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Last season, MSUB placed fourth among the field of six teams at the event.
Meantime, a youthful but talented men’s roster is set to hit the ground running.
The Yellowjackets opened their campaign last week with their fall invitational tournament at Lake Hills Golf Club, and took third place among the five teams competing. MSUB will get a chance to see numerous Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponents this weekend, as they are set to compete in two tournaments in Washington over the next five days.
“I am excited about our men’s golf team this year,” commented Yellowjacket head coach Kevin Woodin. “We are very young, but we have a lot of talent and I am optimistic that we are going to get better as the year progresses.”
First up is the Saint Martin’s Invitational, running Friday-Saturday at The Home Course in Dupont, Washington. The ‘Jacket men will play 36 holes on Friday at the par-72, 6,929-yard course, and will conclude the event with the third and final round on Saturday. There will be live scoring available through www.msubsports.com, and the event will feature 19 teams and nearly 100 total golfers.
After taking Sunday off, the ‘Jackets will get right back into action with the Western Washington University Invitational on Monday-Tuesday in Bellingham, Washington. Another three-round event, MSUB will play 36 holes on Monday at the par-72, 6,561-yard Bellingham Golf & Country Club, and a final round on Tuesday. Live scoring will be available online here, and a total of 20 teams will compete in the event.
“It was nice to have an early tournament at home, and we are very much looking forward to this Washington trip where we play two tournaments,” Woodin commented. “The Home Course is a great track that is pretty wide open, but it is a long course that should be a great challenge for us. I think it fits a lot of our guys’ eyes. The Bellingham Country Club is a more traditional, tree-lined course, and accuracy will be more of a premium there. Together, the two events should bring out the best of our golfers.”
The ‘Jackets will play two more tournaments this fall, including the Rocky Mountain College Invitational on Oct. 1-2 at Peter Yegen Golf Club in Billings, and the Concordia University Invitational on Oct. 8-9 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon. The fall season will conclude with the Mike Grob Cup on Oct. 18-20, as the ‘Jackets face Rocky in match play before the winter.
Competing in the top three positions for the Yellowjackets this year will be juniors Garrett Woodin and Payton Stott, and sophomore Caleb Trost. Both returning from last year’s squad, Trost and Woodin tied for second on the team each with a scoring average of 76.2 strokes per round during the 2017-18 campaign. Both competed in all 26 rounds for the ‘Jackets, and each posted a low-round score of 69 on the season.
In his first year with the ‘Jackets, Trost logged par or better in six of his 26 rounds, and had one top-10 and one top-five finish on the season. Trost’s top three-round score last year was a 216, which he achieved at the Western New Mexico University Invite.
Woodin had four rounds of par or better during his sophomore campaign, and also notched a top-10 finish. The Billings native’s top three-round score last year was a 218, achieved at the Saint Martin’s Invite last September.
New to the team this season is Stott, who is a junior after spending his first two collegiate seasons at NCAA Division I Utah Valley University. Stott competed in six tournaments during his freshman season in 2016-17, and accumulated a scoring average of 77.4 strokes per round in his seven total tournaments. The Billings native’s top single-round score was a 69 achieved as a freshman.
“Despite not having any seniors, we have some terrific golfers on our roster,” Woodin said. “We will need Caleb, Garrett, and Payton to play at the level they are capable of, and they need to be around par all the time.”
Competing for the final two spots will be the other three players on MSUB’s roster, in sophomores Riley Kaercher, Jayd Dion, and Logan Martin.
Kaercher was 1 of 3 Yellowjackets to play in all 26 rounds a season ago, and he carried a scoring average of 81.3 strokes per round. Another Billings native, Kaercher’s top score during his freshman season was a 74.
Dion played in five events and 14 total rounds in his collegiate debut last year, and logged a season scoring average of 81.6 strokes per round. A native of Riverton, Wyoming, Dion’s best single-round effort of the season was a 2-under-par 70 at last year’s Yellowjacket Spring Invitational.
Like Stott, Martin is a Billings native but is new to the Yellowjackets this year after transferring from Rocky Mountain College. As a freshman, Martin played in a pair of events and six total rounds in 2017-18. He had a scoring average of 78.0 strokes per round, and his season low was a 75.
“The deciding factor on how good we can be will be at the four and five positions,” said Woodin. “It will be very competitive with Riley, Jayd, and Logan to fill those spots. If we can get some consistency there, then we can make some noise in our league this year.”
MSUB will prepare all year for the 2019 GNAC Championships, which will run April 22-23 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The ‘Jacket men took sixth place at the conference meet a season ago.
The Yellowjackets’ home events and practice facility is Lake Hills Golf Club in Billings. Live scoring for all tournaments throughout the season will be available through the men’s golf schedule page at www.msubsports.com.