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Men's Golf claims MIAC team championship

Men's Golf claims MIAC team championship

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Led by Shane Sienko's third-place finish, Tommie Men's Golf has secured the program's first MIAC team championship in six seasons.

It's also just the school's second conference crown since 1980.

The Tommies -- ranked No. 24 in the preseason Division III poll but unranked in last week's poll -- led the three-day, 54-hole event in Jordan, Minn., since the early holes on Saturday.

They edged defending champion and No. 17-ranked St. John's by six shots, and topped Augsburg by eight after holding a double-digit lead most of the final day.

As a bonus, St. Thomas receives the conference's automatic team qualifying berth into next May's NCAA Division III Championships.

"It's been a pretty exciting day," said UST coach Scott Proshek. "Our seniors really stepped up."

Ironically, this was St. Thomas' first team victory in four fall tournaments. Thanks to a deep 18-man roster with unusual parity, Proshek didn't know his exact five-man lineup until last Thursday when final qualifying in practice was concluded.

Proshek went with four seniors and one sophomore, and it created a winning formula.

Last October, the Toms placed fourth in this event. Two years ago, St. Thomas finished second in the 54-hole tournament by just one stroke to Augsburg. That 2015-16 UST squad went on to get an at-large berth into nationals and tie for fifth place in the NCAA tournament.


Team effort

The Toms put all five players in the top 22 in the 50-man conference field.

Shane Sienko and Riley Gannon shot two-over 74s on Monday. Emmet Herb (75) and Owen Nowicki (76) were steady all day, too. No. 1-player Pete Sienko battled through some troubles Sunday and Monday, shooting 80 and 82, and tied for 21st. But his opening-round 68 helped put the Tommies into position to play relaxed with a lead.

Shane Sienko was tied for the medalist lead with one hole to play, but Augsburg's Brett Buckingham and GAC's Alex Aunan birdied their last hole, while Sienko parred. Shane Sienko and Nowicki made the All-MIAC team with top-10 finishes.

St. Thomas won or shared a record 15 of a possible 22 MIAC regular-season titles in each of the last two school years. This is the first of the 22 MIAC titles contested for 2017-18.

The Tommies are the fifth different school in the last six years to claim an MIAC men's golf title.



Sunday story

With three players sitting in the top eight through 36 holes, St. Thomas Men's Golf will take a double-digit lead in Monday's final 18 holes at MIAC Championships in Jordan.

The Toms (283-306/589) lead second-place Augsburg (292-308/600) by 11 shots.

St. John's (296-309/605) and Gustavus (301-307/608) are within seven shots of the Auggies but need a huge day to make a championship bid.

Owen Nowicki had UST's best Sunday round at 74, and Riley Gannon shot 76. Shane Sienko (77), Emmet Herb (79) and Pete Sienko (80) rounded out the Tommie lineup.  

Shane Sienko is tied for the overall lead at 146 in a field of 50. Eleven players are within four shots of the medalist lead.


Saturday story

Senior Pete Sienko shot four-under-par 68 and senior Shane Sienko carded a 69 -- the best rounds on the day in the field of 50 players -- to lead Tommie Men's Golf to the 18-hole team lead Saturday at the MIAC Championships in Jordan, Minn. The three-day, 54-hole event continues Sunday.

The Tommies, winless in their first three tournaments of the fall, shot five-under-par 283 on Saturday. They lead Augsburg by nine strokes; No. 17-ranked St. Johns by 13; and Bethel by 17.

Sophomore Emmet Herb and senior Owen Nowicki each shot 73s. Senior Riley Gannon shot 78.

Pete Sienko had four birdies and 14 pars. Shane Sienko had six birdies and three bogeys. Herb had four birdies, three bogeys and a double. Nowicki had two birdies, one bogey and one double bogey.