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July Rewind: Golf has (championship) banner year

July Rewind: Golf has (championship) banner year

Editor's Note: Starting July 7 and running through the rest of the month, Tommiesports.com will highlight 25 memorable events from St. Thomas' successful 2017-18 athletics year

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Golfers Seize the Day

St. Thomas Men's Golf had a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season as it missed a return trip for its team to the NCAA Championships. UST placed fifth in the 2016 national meet.

The senior-led 2017-18 Tommies made good on a goal to get back into the national conversation.

Coach Scott Proshek's bunch started a bit slowly in September 2017 before putting it all together at the three-day MIAC meet. UST held off No. 17-ranked St. John's by six strokes and Augsburg by eight strokes to close out the victory on Oct. 2 at the 10-team, 54-hole MIAC Championships. Shane Sienko of St. Thomas Academy took third out of 50 players with rounds of 69-77-74/220. He improved 25 spots from the 2016 conference meet placing. He had six birdies on the first day, and 14 pars on Monday's final round.

Before the MIAC victory, St. Thomas had played 16 consecutive multi-team tournaments over a two-year span without capturing a team crown.

The Toms exploded onto the Division III scene in mid-October as it won the elite 18-team Golfweek Preview Tournament -- the program's second such Golfweek victory in three years. The unranked Tommies topped an 18-team field that included the Nos. 1-7 ranked teams plus six other schools ranked in the top 25. No. 2-ranked Huntingdon (Ala.) took second place, seven back at 864. No. 4-ranked Illinois Wesleyan closed at 865 for third.

St. Thomas had nine of its 15 player rounds come in at 72 or better, including four in the 60s. Senior Pete Sienko and sophomore Emmet Herb closed in the top 10 individually in a field of 90 players. Pete Sienko shot 72 and tied for sixth at 211. Herb shot 73 and tied for eighth at 215. Seniors Shane SienkoOwen Nowicki and Riley Gannon all finished in the top 35.

That helped the Tommies move to No. 1 in Division III in the GolfStat computer rankings and No. 3 in the coaches' poll for most of the winter and spring.

St. Thomas tied for 11th out of 42 teams at the May 2018 national tournament.

Pete Sienko shot a seven-under 65 in an April 2018 round -- the best score by a Tommie in 13 seasons.

Herb was named MIAC Player of the Year with the lowest stroke average, led by five rounds of 70 or better. He joined Pete Sienko as one of 30 finalists for the Division III Player of the Year.

Eighth-year coach Proshek was one of six Division III Regional Coaches of the Year for 2017-18 in men's golf. His Tommies have five NCAA top-20 team finishes over the last seven seasons.

Tommie players posted 30 rounds of 72 or better over the course of the fall and spring.

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Previous July Rewind stories:

 July 25: Football Gets Record Crowd at Target Field