2016-17 MEN'S GOLF

2016-17 ROSTER | PDF

2016-17 Meet Results

*Placed 7th in the GPAC (300-343-324-314--1,281) | Season Stats

FALL

Mount Marty College Invite (Sept. 1-2) | Yankton, S.D. | Hillcrest CC

Siouxland Invite (Sept. 8-9) | Sioux Center/Orange City, Iowa | The Ridge GC/Landsmeer GC

Blue River Classic (Sept. 20-21) | Lincoln, Neb. | Wilderness Ridge GC/Highlands GC

GPAC Fall Qualifier (Oct. 3) | Sioux Falls, S.D. | Willow Run GC

Nebraska Intercollegiate (Oct. 7-8) | Norfolk, Neb. | Norfolk CC

SPRING

Midland Spring Invite (April 3-4) | Fremont/Oakland, Neb. | Fremont GC/Oakland GC

BCU Invite (April 12-13) | Sioux City, Iowa | Green Valley GC

Match Play Event at Northwestern (April 17-18) | Orange City, Iowa | Landsmeer GC

GPAC Spring Qualifier (April 24-25) | Eagle, Neb. | Woodland Hills GC

Season preview: 2016-17 Concordia golf

MEN'S GOLF
Head Coach: Brett Muller (6th year)
2015-16 GPAC Finish: 7th (312-316-319-296–1,243)
Key Returners: Tyelr Ehresman (Jr.); Jared Knoepfel (Sr.); Russell Otten (Jr.); Reid Wiebe (Sr.); Nolan Zikas (So.).
Key Newcomers: Matthew Bruce; Alec Hansen; Tyler Knoepfel; Noah Rohlfing; Tylar Samek
Key Losses: Sam Simonson; Garrett Suchanek.
2016 GPAC All-Conference: Reid Wiebe (T-23rd); Nolan Zikas (T-8th).

Season Outlook
Following a season of record-breaking performances, the Concordia golf programs both bring back several established star performers from their 2015-16 teams. Most prominent among them is senior Amy Ahlers, a contender for the GPAC title heading into her senior year. On the men’s side, Nolan Zikas emerged as the team’s most compelling story during an incredible spring run as a freshman.

Ahlers and Zikas will almost assuredly be part of their respective teams’ top five throughout 2016-17, but competition will be fierce for the final spots in the lineup. Every year it’s gotten more difficult to earn a spot in that top five. There’s now a good mix of young and old.

“We do have our top five back on the men’s side and we’re bringing in some freshmen as well,” said sixth-year head coach Brett Muller. “Experience is a big deal. We’re playing longer and tougher golf courses than the guys did in high school. Our practices are becoming more competitive with having more guys in the mix. They know they have to play well in practice to keep their spots.”

The women will feature a particularly potent top three with Ahlers, junior Emma Jacoby and freshman Murphy Sears. No Concordia women’s golfer in school history has enjoyed a more successful run than Ahlers, who last season broke the program record for lowest single-season average. She’s been an all-conference performer each of her first three years while placing inside the top 10 of 23 tournaments during her career.

Ahlers turned down Dakota Wesleyan, a GPAC power in women’s golf, to come to Concordia. It’s hard to understate her importance to the program.

“Amy’s been a big lift for the program,” Muller said. “She’s definitely one of the favorites to win the (GPAC) women’s event this year on the individual side. She’s gotten better every year. That’s because she puts in the extra time. She plays a ton of golf in the summer. She shows up early to practice and stays late. She’s doing all the right things to take her game to the next level.”

Ahlers is a given at the top of Concordia’s lineup. A return to form for Jacoby would be a huge boost for the program. The Lincoln native missed the spring season due to a shoulder injury but has bounced back strong in practice this fall. She placed seventh in the conference as a freshman following a stellar high school career at Lincoln North Star. Said Jacoby, “I think I’m getting close. A lot of it is mental – just remembering how to go out there and play well, having a good mental game and making sure my swing is under control. I don’t want to have to think about it too much out there.”

Then there’s Sears, a product of Crete High School. Muller believes she will rival Ahlers and Jacoby at the top of the lineup while competing for a lofty spot on the GPAC leaderboard. With Kayla Krueger’s departure, the addition of Sears takes on added importance. She’s the ringleader for a class of three freshmen.

Coming up with a reliable No. 4 option could decide exactly what heights Concordia women’s golf reaches in 2016-17.

“I think we can accomplish a lot,” Jacoby said. “Even though we do have some losses, I think Amy has worked really hard this summer. She’s playing well as usual. If I can get back in it and play well I think we can definitely move up the conference. That’s our goal. We had a couple wins last year which was awesome.”

Everyone from last season’s top five is back in the fold for the Bulldog men. Other than two tough outings at GPAC qualifiers Nos. 1 and 2, Reid Wiebe put together a rock-solid junior year. He topped Concordia with a team low season average of 76.4. Zikas then stole the show during the spring when he tied for first at both the third and fourth conference qualifier rounds. All the while, Zikas has continued his fight against bone cancer.

The native of La Vista, Neb., is an inspiration to say the least.

“The thing about Nolan is he’s a great kid outside of golf,” said senior Jared Knoepfel. “He’s totally relatable, which is tough for a person in that situation. To keep a good attitude like he does is inspiring obviously. He and I have had plenty of conversations about faith and about school and furthering those two things. He’s creating a foundation with those two things and golf is coming along with it.”

Knoepfel, who has played in 38 career rounds as a Bulldog, joins Wiebe, Zikas and juniors Tyler Ehresman and Russell Otten as experienced and proven returners. All five were part of the Concordia lineup that set a new single-round school standard of 291 at the Briar Cliff Mini-Tour Stop.

They will be pushed by a freshman group of five that includes Matthew Bruce, Alec Hansen, Tyler Knoepfel, Noah Rohlfing and Tylar Samek. It’s saying something for anyone who can become a regular on this Bulldog team.

“Coming here freshman year there was competition for the top five, but it wasn’t where we are now,” Jared Knoepfel said. “That’s something in recruiting that Coach has put effort into. He’s got people in here that have made practice more competitive. When you have competitive practices all year, you’re going to start getting results.”

Concordia hopes the final results indicate improvement from last season’s GPAC finishes of sixth and seventh place, respectively. In order to move up among their conference rivals, the Bulldogs will have to acclimate to a new GPAC championship format for 2016-17. Instead of playing four separate, 18-hole qualifiers, the conference will shift to a pair of two-day meets, one in the fall and one in the spring, that will place the men and women at the same site. Muller and his players have all expressed support for the change.

“I’m very excited about the new format with two neutral sites for 36-hole events with men’s and women’s teams on same courses,” Muller said. “It gives us the opportunity to find nicer golf courses than we’ve played in the past. It will really even the playing field. There won’t be a home course advantage. It’s such an advantage if you can host GPAC 3 or GPAC 4 late in the season to give you a push. I think it’s better for everybody. With having all men’s and women’s teams on the course together I think it will make it feel like more of a big time event.”

SEASON OPENS THURSDAY: Both Concordia golf programs tee off their 2016-17 seasons this Thursday and Friday at the Mount Marty Invite. Day one will take place at Fox Run Golf Course before shifting to Hillcrest Country Club for the second and final day. Both courses are located in Yankton, S.D.

Nolan Zikas: I will be the victor

NOTE: A version of this story first appeared in Concordia University's Broadcaster magazine.

At four-over-par through three holes, Concordia freshman Nolan Zikas faced an uphill climb while navigating the course at Firethorn in Lincoln, site of the season’s third conference qualifier meet. But Zikas is difficult to rattle. He stormed back by shooting one under the rest of the day to claim his first career collegiate tournament victory. Said Nolan of his early struggles, “I could have gotten mad. I could have just given up.”

If any observers expected Nolan to fold that day, well they just don’t have any idea who the native of La Vista, Neb., really is. You could throw out that old cliché, “tough as nails,” to describe Nolan, but it’s like saying water is wet, the sky is blue and the desert is hot. If you know Nolan, you know what toughness really looks like.

You see, Nolan has faced adversity much more trying than anything that may go wrong on the golf course. Early on in his high school days he began to experience discomfort in his right leg. While playing baseball, he’d hit the ball, run halfway to first base and then pull up limping. He was 15 years old. Perhaps it was just a matter of growing into his body. Said Nolan, “I thought it was growing pains.”

But reality proved far, far worse. Jan. 5, 2012. No chance Nolan will ever forget that date. It’s the day his life changed forever, the day he learned of the tumor in his right leg, the cause of his physical pain. Nolan had cancer, osteosarcoma, to be exact, a form of bone cancer that would eventually spread to his lungs. The presence of the tumor necessitated surgery that resulted in the removal of Nolan’s right femur bone, the insertion of a titanium rod and knee replacement on April 24, 2012.

“I can just remember sitting in the room with my mom and dad and the surgeon,” Nolan said. “Him saying, ‘you have cancer’ definitely took a toll on me and my family, but we knew we would get through it together. I don’t think I could have done it without them.”

It’s been more than four years since that first surgery. There have been 11 additional operations since then with the most recent occurring early this summer. The visits to the Mayo clinic, chemotherapy and regular checkups are a constant reminder of the rough circumstances Nolan continues to deal with. When Nolan won the GPAC qualifier on April 11, at least for a moment, he felt on top of the world. Said Zikas, “I was at the highest point of my life.” He was in his element, doing what “God planned for him.”

Two days later Concordia head golf coach Brett Muller received a text message from Nolan. Muller was in the middle of coaching a tournament with the Bulldog women’s team. Muller was taken aback. How do you even think about golf in a moment like that? Nolan suffered a setback. The tumor in his lungs, believed to be under control, had spread. Yep, more surgery. The news understandably overwhelmed Nolan.

Nothing about the situation is fair for the ever-optimistic Zikas, the type of gentleman everyone would want of a son. Mentally unbreakable, Nolan is the sort of young man who lets you know when he’s running late. And simply engage him about his situation. He’ll fill you in. Asked via text for an interview, Nolan replied, “I enjoy telling my story.” He’ll tell it like it is. He won’t tell you everything is fine, because that’s not the truth.

The way Nolan sees it, there’s a reason why he’s forced to deal with an adverse set of circumstances. Mature beyond his years, he’s equipped to handle it like few people as youthful in age. “I always believe that God gives the toughest situations to the toughest people,” Nolan said. “I don’t think I’m ever really going to know why. Why me? Why not some other kid who does drugs or gets into trouble? God has given me this situation because He knows I can overcome it.”

Nolan is a testament to the power of faith and positive thinking. In his mind, neither surgical operation nor chemotherapy will be as instrumental in his fight as will be his attitude. “You will win this battle” is the powerful message Nolan gives other cancer patients seeking positive encouragement. Says his mother Erica, “When he gives speeches at American Cancer Society events and Make-A-Wish events it makes us real proud that he’s able to get up there and tell his story. People are inspired by it. He’s a fighter. He just says, ‘I’m going to beat it, mom.’ It keeps coming at him, but he keeps fighting.”

Incredibly, Nolan played even better golf in the wake of the unsettling news he received in mid-April. The cancer didn’t cripple him. It made him stronger. He carded a career low 69 as part of a school record team performance on April 19. Then he finished his freshman season by again tying for first at the final GPAC qualifier.

The second career win in less than a month’s span was made ever sweeter by the presence of his parents, grandmother and aunt at the event. “He’s handled it a lot better than I do,” said Nolan’s father Tim. “There are no words to really describe it. You just have to be around the kid. He’s one of a kind. He’s an inspiration to a lot of people whether he knows it or not.”

Nolan has been an inspiration now for several years. It crushed him to have to miss his freshman golf season at Papillion La Vista High School. He often rode along in the cart with his coaches and watched his teammates play as he went down the long road to recovery. His rehabilitation required him to relearn how to walk while attempting to rediscover his stroke on the course. Those skills came racing back for Nolan, who’s never had a problem with drive or determination in life or on the course. Told by doctors that there was a chance he’d never walk again, Nolan never listened.

He returned to the state tournament with a 12th-place finish as a junior and then a third-place claim as a senior. As the lone qualifier from his high school his sophomore year, Nolan didn’t gloat about how impressive of a feat it was for him to make it to state so soon after cancer diagnosis and life-altering surgery that forced him to walk with a cane during the first few meets upon his return. He longed for the teammates that supported him through it all to be there with him at state. Says Nolan, “We were one big family, and we’re one big family here at Concordia as well.”

Family is what helped Nolan get through the latest dose of cruelty sent his way. On May 11, two days after shooting an even-par 70 at the final meet of his freshman season, he went back under the knife for a successful operation that removed the cancer from his lungs. By this point Nolan had accepted surgery as an inevitability. There would be no time for celebration of another tournament win. No, Nolan celebrated by having his 12th surgery in just over four years. Still, he remained positive. “That’s just his personality,” Erica said. “We’re very thankful for that. So many times he’s kept us from getting down because it’s so devastating to hear that your child has cancer. He’s always just had that attitude that he’s going to beat it.”

The day prior to surgery, Nolan sent out a tweet that perfectly summarized his stubbornness. The tweet read, “The fight is not over, but when it is over I WILL BE THE VICTOR.”

One day when Nolan does fully kick cancer to the curb, he will have done so in part through the game of golf, which he started playing at the age of six. He also loved baseball but since the two sports conflicted, he had to choose one. Perhaps steered by the hand of God, Nolan settled on golf and decided he never wanted to let go, no matter the circumstances. The recreational sports studies major even wants to make a career out of working in the golf industry in some fashion.

It would be unwise to bet against Nolan attaining his career aspirations. He accomplished his performance goals on the course this spring and then immediately set his sights on what would come next. Don’t look back. Keep looking forward. That kind of focus in the face of significant physical and mental challenges make Nolan a hero. “I’m an inspiration to people,” Nolan says. “It just makes me feel good inside. I enjoy being an inspiration. I like telling my story. I want kids to know that they can overcome this.”

Now Concordia is the great beneficiary of Nolan’s unwavering spirit. He arrived this past fall after drawing little recruiting interest from college golf programs. Nolan doesn’t know if the lack of golf scholarship offers had anything to do with his situation. He first entertained the idea of moving down south to play collegiately, but for so many reasons it would not have made sense. He made his final college visit at Concordia and “felt like I already fit in.”

Nolan’s presence on the team pretty much insures that excuses and woe-is-me-comments will be at a minimum among teammates. You think you’ve had a bad day? The stresses of homework, college relationship drama and a bad putt have you feeling a bit sideways? Try switching situations with Nolan. Said Erica, “His high school coach always used him as an example and his teammates rallied around it. ‘If Nolan’s out here doing it, so can we.’”

Nolan’s attitude has made him an easy person to rally around. Muller never saw cancer as a crutch for Nolan and says he has yet to see the budding star break down mentally. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard the kid complain,” says Muller. “He’s never used his medical misfortunes as an excuse. We found out on our spring break trip to Florida that whatever he’s doing at that point in time, he’s all in. If he’s throwing a Frisbee to guys on the beach, he’s 100 percent in. That’s how he lives his life. He’s never complained about his situation. He’s always met it head on. His quote before the surgery is him. He is the victor.”

May 12, 2016. Lying in a hospital bed a day after surgery, Nolan relayed the details of his latest operation to Muller. Prayers were answered. The surgery went as planned. #TeamZeke won again.

Winner on the course. Winner off the course. That’s Nolan Zikas. Says Nolan, “If I were to give up, which is never going to happen, I’d not only be letting myself down but my family, my friends and all my supporters who’ve been right there with me.”

I will be the victor.

Samek highlights Mount Marty Invite

YANKTON, S.D. – A pair of freshmen recorded top-10 finishes in their first meets as Bulldogs as part of the two-day Mount Marty Fall Invite held in Yankton, S.D. A total of 17 players represented the Concordia University golf programs in the event that saw the Bulldogs close action on Friday with team finishes of fourth (men) and 10th (women), respectively.

The lineup scratch of junior Emma Jacoby contributed to a higher team score of 361-414–775 for the women. Meanwhile, the men carded a two-round total of 309-310–619.

“We played five freshmen in our top 10 so we had a lot of young guys getting their first collegiate experience,” Muller said of the men’s team. “We definitely showed our youth a little bit. We had some good moments. It was great to see Tylar Samek come in as a freshman and contribute right away. All in all, I think we played decent for 15-16 holes each day. We just didn’t finish.”

Freshmen Murphy Sears and Tylar Samek acquitted themselves well in their first outings as collegiate golfers. Sears, a Crete native, shot a team low 83 on Thursday before finishing with an 88 on Friday. She tied for ninth place amongst the field of 74 golfers. On the flip side, Samek, who hails from David City, put together back-to-back scores of 76 and finished tied for 10th.

Following Samek, the Concordia men’s top five at the Mount Marty Invite included senior Reid Wiebe (75-79–154), junior Russell Otten (78-77–155), senior Jared Knoepfel (82-78–160) and sophomore Nolan Zikas (80-84–164). Both Wiebe and Zikas earned all-conference accolades a year ago. Ten Bulldog men were part of the field in Yankton.

The tournament field was made up exclusively of GPAC schools. Mount Marty took first in the event on the men’s side.

The Concordia men’s golf team will return to action next Thursday and Friday (Sept. 8-9) for the Siouxland Invite hosted by both Dordt and Northwestern.

Bulldogs get low on final day of Siouxland Invite

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University men’s golf team completed a solid two-day performance at the Siouxland Invitational on Friday in an event co-hosted by conference rivals Dordt and Northwestern. The Bulldogs’ team score of 294 on Friday bested its Thursday total by a stroke and allowed them to place fourth amongst the 17 squads in the tournament field.

No adversity seems to stop sophomore Nolan Zikas, who recently had stiches sewed into one of his fingers. He topped the Bulldogs at the Siouxland Invite by shooting a 73-70–143, good enough to tie for second out of 83 players. Zikas was one of nine Concordia representatives who persevered through stormy conditions and lengthy weather delays.

“I’m very proud of the guys,” Muller said. “I’m fairly certain that’s a 36-hole school record for a team. We showed up back-to-back days and played well. That’s very rewarding for the guys. Nolan turned in a great individual performance. It was nice for him to bounce back after getting stitches out of his finger on Tuesday. We had a lot of scores in the 70s so that shows some of our depth and how competitive we can be. We had great consistency one through five.”

Each of Concordia’s top five players turned in scores of 78 or lower in both rounds of the tournament. Zikas was followed by Russell Otten (71-75–146; T-7th), Tylar Samek (77-72–149; T-20th), Reid Wiebe (74-77–151; T-28th) and Jared Knoepfel (78-77–155; T-41st). Among the foursome on Concordia’s second grouping, Alec Hanson performed best with a 76-76–152.

The two team scores turned in by the Bulldogs at the Siouxland Invite were within striking distance of the school record for best single-round total. Last year’s squad set the standard by shooting a 291 in the second round of the Briar Cliff Mini-Tour Stop this past spring. The scores of 294 and 295 rank Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on the program’s all-time list of lowest team totals.

Zikas, who owns two career tournament wins, claimed the fourth top-five placement of his young career. On Friday he was just one stroke off a personal best.

The Bulldogs will return to action next week when they co-host the Blue River Classic with Doane. The two-day event will take place Sept. 20-21. Day one will be contested at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club in Lincoln before shifting to Concordia’s home course, Highlands in Lincoln, for round two.

Bulldogs positioned for solid finish after day one of Blue River Classic

LINCOLN, Neb. – Though the day may have not ended as strong as the Concordia University men’s golf team had started, it still put itself in solid position heading into day two of the Blue River Classic, co-hosted by the Bulldogs and rival Doane. Concordia shot a 305 on Tuesday with four of five players carding scores in the 70s.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad outshot co-host Doane by a single stroke. Going into round two, Southeast Community College (297) is the leader with GPAC squads Midland (300) and Morningside (303) coming in next.

“We had a lot of guys in position with about five holes left to finish off a pretty solid day,” Muller said. “We gave some strokes away late in the round. I know our guys are hungry to play our home course tomorrow. Being eight shots back of the lead it will be tough, but it’s still our goal to win our own invitational.”

Sophomore Nolan Zikas shot a 73 on Tuesday and stands just one stroke off leaders Kean Kontor (Southeast) and Zach Ward (Midland) atop the individual leaderboard. Bulldog freshman Tylar Samek is right on Zikas’ heels after carding a 74. The rest of Concordia’s ‘A’ team included seniors Reid Wiebe (79) and Jared Knoepfel (79) and junior Russell Otten (85). The second grouping of Bulldogs was led by Tyler Ehresman, who carded an 84.

Muller’s program now gets set to stage round two at Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln. Tee time is set for 9 a.m. from Concordia’s home course. It will mark the first time ever that Bulldog men’s golf has hosted an event at Highlands.

Bulldogs break school record, finish runner up at Blue River Classic

LINCOLN, Neb. – Though faced with windy and muggy conditions, the Concordia University men’s golf team made itself cozy at its home course on Wednesday, which marked the second and final day of the Blue River Classic. The Bulldogs turned in a school record 18-hole team score of 288 in round two held at Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln and leapt into a second-place overall finish amongst the field of 15 squads.

Concordia has already carded three team scores below 300 this fall for head coach Brett Muller. In this week’s tournament co-hosted with Doane, the Bulldogs recorded a two-round total of 305-288–593. Led by senior Reid Wiebe’s personal best four-under-par 68 on Wednesday, Concordia defeated all seven GPAC rivals at the Blue River Classic. The Bulldogs had entered the day in fourth place.

“The GPAC as a whole is very deep,” Muller said. “We obviously had an advantage playing on our home course today. It just shows you how competitive we can be in the GPAC. If we go out and play well, we can be in the hunt for a GPAC championship.”

It was Wiebe who stole the show at Highlands, carding the top score of any individual over the course of round two. He bounced back impressively after shooting a 79 at Wilderness Ridge on Tuesday and moved into fifth place on the final leaderboard. Wiebe took advantage of his powerful stroke off the tee and avoided putting himself in trouble spots.

Sophomore Nolan Zikas just missed claiming the third tournament victory of his career. He was the most consistent Bulldog at the Blue River Classic, turning in a 73-71–144 to place him runner up and just a single stroke off of medalist Noah Hoffman of Southeast Community College. It’s been an impressive run for Zikas, whose play really took off this past spring.

“It was a big accomplishment today,” Zikas said of the team record. “The conditions weren’t easy either. Doing it at our home course was awesome as well. We kind of knew we were getting close to it as the day went on. Coach just told us to finish the round, and that’s what we did.”

Freshman Tylar Samek has provided a nice boost this season. He followed Zikas and Wiebe and tied for eighth overall by way of a 74-75–149. The rest of Concordia’s first grouping included senior Jared Knoepfel (79-79–158; T-33rd place) and junior Russell Otten (85-74–159; T-39th). Four of Concordia’s top five improved their scores in round two.

Concordia’s second grouping turned in a solid 311 while slashing 35 strokes off of its score from Tuesday’s round. Tyler Ehresman (84-75–159) and Alec Hanson (86-74–160) were neck and neck for the lowest total among the Bulldogs’ ‘next’ five.

Concordia hopes Wednesday’s performance will springboard them in their next outing – the GPAC fall tournament, Oct. 3-4, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“If this were a GPAC, we would have won,” Zikas said. “It gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation to keep practicing and hopefully go out and win the GPAC.”

Zikas collects second career GPAC weekly award

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in his career, sophomore Nolan Zikas has raked in GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Golfer of the Week honors. Wednesday’s announcement from the league office comes on the heels of a stellar performance at last week’s Blue River Classic (Sept. 20-21) for Zikas, a native of La Vista, Neb.

Over two rounds at the event co-hosted by Concordia and Doane, Zikas carded a one-over-par 73-71–144, placing him second amongst the field of 92 golfers. With Zikas leading the way, head coach Brett Muller’s squad placed second as a team while beating out every GPAC rival at the tournament. Zikas was just one stroke away from claiming the third tournament title of his career. Last season Zikas tied for first at GPAC Qualifiers Nos. 3 and 4.

Through six rounds this season, Zikas carries an 18-hole average of 75.2. That’s an improvement from his average of 77.1 last season as a freshman. Zikas’ career single-round low was a one-under par 69 at the Briar Cliff Mini-Tour Stop on April 19, 2016.

Zikas and the men’s golf team will conclude the fall portion of the schedule with the GPAC Fall Tournament (Oct. 3-4) and the Nebraska Intercollegiate (Oct. 7-8).

Samek leads way as men's golf sits in third place in the GPAC

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Remarkably consistent freshman Tyler Samek led the way on day one as the Concordia University men’s golf team shot a 300 on the opening day of the GPAC Fall Qualifier, held Monday at Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Falls, S.D. It marked the fourth time already this fall that the Bulldogs have carded a score of 300 or lower.

Heading into Saturday’s second and final round of the opening GPAC event, head coach Brett Muller’s squad trails only Morningside (293) and Northwestern (297) among the 10 men’s golf programs in the conference.

“I would say the 300 is about what we deserved,” Muller said. “We played decent. Nothing great. Nothing terrible. We definitely left some strokes out on the course. Our guys know we can improve tomorrow.”

Both Samek (tied for fifth) and senior Reid Wiebe (tied for eighth) have put themselves in the top 10 after 18 holes of conference qualifier action. Samek shot a 73 while Wiebe followed closely behind with a 74. The top four was tightly grouped for the Bulldogs. Sophomore Nolan Zikas, the reigning GPAC golfer of the week, carded a 76 while junior Russell Otten turned in a 77. The team’s No. 5, senior Jared Knoepfel, rounded out the lineup with an 85.

It’s been an impressive start in the career of Samek, a native of David City, Neb., who has yet to card a score worse than 77 through his first seven rounds as a collegiate golfer. Samek would love to follow up Zikas and make it two-straight years in which a Concordia freshman has garnered all-conference recognition.

“He’s been extremely consistent this year,” Muller said. “He’s been a guy we can count on every tournament round. We know he’s going to help us in the team race.”

Both Wiebe and Zikas were all-conference performers in 2015-16. They will aim to keep themselves in position for more accolades when action picks back up from Sioux Falls on Tuesday. Tomorrow’s round has been moved up to 9 a.m. CT due to forecasted storms.

“Pretty much every team took a practice round the day before the event,” Muller said. “Competing in against them for three days in a row makes it feel like a bigger event. It’s a much better format than the four one-day events.”

Heavy rain postpones day two of men's golf GPAC Fall Qualifier

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Due to persistent heavy rains, the GPAC has postponed Tuesday’s scheduled second round of the men’s golf GPAC Fall Qualifier. A make-up date has not yet been announced. The remaining 54 holes of conference qualifier action will take place in the spring.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad concluded Monday’s round at Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Falls, S.D., in third place among the 10 GPAC men’s golf squads with a team score of 300. Concordia’s lineup included freshman Tylar Samek (73, T-5th), senior Reid Wiebe (74, T-8th), sophomore Nolan Zikas (76, T-14th), junior Russell Otten (77, T-18th) and senior Jared Knoepfel (84, T-42nd).

The men are set to return to action on Friday and Saturday at the Nebraska Intercollegiate at Norfolk Country Club. Day one is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. CT. Tee time for day two is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Bulldogs conclude fall season at Nebraska Intercollegiate

NORFOLK, Neb. – The Bulldogs competed in the Nebraska Intercollegiate two-day tournament in Norfolk, Neb., this weekend. The men’s golf team took on 15 schools and placed eighth overall with a stroke count of 307-319—626.

Reid Wiebe led the Bulldogs with a score of 72-82—154. He was followed closely by Nolan Zikas (78-78—156), Tylar Samek (79-82—161), Russell Otten (83-77—160) and Jared Knoepfel (78-83—161).

Wiebe tied for 19th place out of 89 participants. The tournament included many area Nebraska colleges such as GPAC rivals Midland, Doane and Hastings.

“It was a disappointing day for us today,” said head golf coach, Brett Muller, who is in his sixth season at Concordia. “We didn’t have anyone shoot sub-75, and it hurt our team score. I am proud of our second group. They showed our depth today. This is obviously not how we wanted to end the fall, but I am optimistic for the spring.

Court Croghan led the second grouping with a final score of 77-78—155. Croghan led the way for a Bulldog team that carded a team score of 334-316—650.

This was the Bulldogs last meet of the fall season, they will return again in the spring.

Otten, Concordia in fifth place after 36 holes at Midland Invite

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s golf team got the spring season started for real on Monday, which marked day one of the Midland Spring Invitational. As part of a marathon outing at Fremont Golf Club, the Bulldogs shot a two-round total of 309-301–610 while playing 36 holes. The tournament will continue on Tuesday with another 18 holes.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad was right in line with its 303.0 team average from nine rounds back in the fall. Concordia sits in fifth place amongst nine teams. Individually, Russell Otten has paced Concordia at the Midland Invite with his 36-hole score of 77-70–147 (+5). He sits in sixth place out of 45 golfers.

Muller traveled a total of eight competitors to Fremont. Following Otten were the likes of Nolan Zikas (76-77–153), Jared Knoepfel (76-79–155), Tyler Knoepfel (80-78–158), Tylar Samek (80-80–160), Tyler Ehresman (85-75–160), Noah Rohlfing (82-86–168) and Grant Suchanek (83-89–172). Among the Bulldogs to take the course in Fremont, Zikas owned the top season average entering the spring (75.89).

Tuesday’s action is slated to get going at 10:30 a.m. CT with a shotgun start from Oakland Golf Club in Oakland, Neb. The Midland Spring Invite is a 54-hole event.

Otten, Zikas climb leaderboard in final round at Midland Invite

OAKLAND, Neb. – The final 18 of 54 holes at the Midland Spring Invitational saw both Russell Otten and Nolan Zikas make leaps up the leaderboard. The two standouts highlighted the efforts of the Concordia University men’s golf team at the two-day event that took place Monday and Tuesday. As a team, the Bulldogs placed fifth out of nine squads at the tournament.

Head coach Brett Muller’s group carded a three-round total of 309-301-311–921 (+65). The first two rounds took place at Fremont Golf Club in Fremont, Neb., before play shifted to Oakland Golf Club in Oakland, Neb., for Tuesday’s final round.

“This was the first time in my six years at Concordia where we played 36 holes in one day and then played 18 the following day in one invitational,” Muller said. “I’m glad we did. It will definitely prepare us for the spring GPAC with it being in that same format. You have to have a different mindset when you play 36 in one day. I thought the guys really competed.”

Otten claimed his first top-five finish of the 2016-17 season by turning in a solid score of 77-70-75–222 (+8), which put him five strokes behind the tournament champion. Otten moved up two spots from sixth into a tie for fourth by the time the dust settled. Meanwhile, the consistent Zikas saved his best round for Tuesday, capping his tournament with a total of 76-77-72–225. Zikas shared sixth place in what was the third top-10 finish of his of his sophomore campaign.

“Russell played fantastic in his second round yesterday,” Muller said. “He played at five-under-par to close out his round. The course in Fremont is one he feels comfortable at. He kept grinding today. Zeke today was right around one and two over most of the day. He finished up with a birdie to get him back to even. Zeke’s been pretty solid all year and put out another solid performance.”

A total of eight Bulldogs were present for all three rounds. Besides Otten and Zikas, three others factored in towards the team score: Jared Knoepfel (T-22nd; 76-79-83–238), Tyler Ehresman (T-29th; 85-75-82–242) and Tylar Samek (T-29th; 80-80-82–242). Another three golfers represented Concordia as individuals: Tyler Knoepfel (25th; 80-78-81–239), Noah Rohlfing (39th; 82-86-90–258) and Grant Suchanek (41st; 83-89-88–260).

The 311 team score was actually the highest of the 2016-17 season for the Bulldogs. In 11 rounds total through the fall and spring, Concordia has shot a 300 or lower on four occasions. The current squad broke a program 18-hole record by carding a 288 at the Blue River Classic this past Sept. 21.

The Bulldogs will be idle for the remainder of the week. Their next event is scheduled for April 12-13 when they take part in the Briar Cliff University Invite. Green Valley Golf Course will serve as the host venue.

Bulldogs card 296 on day one at Briar Cliff Invite

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For the fourth time this season, the Concordia University men’s golf team turned in a round of lower than 300. With a 296 at Wednesday’s opening round of the Briar Cliff University Invitational, the Bulldogs will enter day two with a third-place standing out of the 12 teams in the field at Green Valley Golf Course in Sioux City, Iowa.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad came into the week with a team season average of 304.0. Concordia is seeking its third top-three tournament finish of 2016-17.

Individually, junior Russell Otten and sophomore Nolan Zikas are chasing second top 10 placements in a row. They are tied for sixth on the leaderboard with identical even-par 72 totals. Otten turned in five birdies (tied for the most in the field). The rest of the five-member team included freshman Tylar Samek (76, T-23rd), senior Jared Knoepfel (76, T-23rd) and freshman Tyler Knoepfel (80, T-47th).

Muller also traveled three individuals to the event: junior Tyler Ehresman (78, T-31st) and freshmen Noah Rohlfing (79, T-38th) and Grant Suchanek (83, T-53rd). There were 72 total golfers that took the course on Wednesday.

Prior to Wednesday, Concordia golfers had combined for seven rounds of even par or better during this academic year. Zikas has four such rounds and Otten has three. Both Zikas (75.7) and Otten (76.6) came in well below their season averages on day one of the Briar Cliff Invite.

Action at Green Valley is set to resume at 9 a.m. CT on Thursday. The Bulldogs are eight strokes behind second place Morningside (288) and 10 strokes in back of first place Northwestern (286).

Bulldogs settle for fourth in Sioux City

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – While returning to Green Valley Golf Club in Sioux City, Iowa, for the second day in a row, the Concordia University men’s golf team fell back one spot in a battle against a field made up almost exclusively of GPAC rivals. The Bulldogs settled for fourth place out of 12 teams, carding a two-day score of 296-314–610 in an event that took place on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad has placed fourth or better at five of seven events during the 2016-17 campaign.

“Conditions were a little bit tougher today. The wind blew a little harder than it did yesterday,” Muller said. “The course played a lot longer. We had some good rounds going. We just didn’t do a very good job of finishing. Both Nolan (Zikas) and Russell (Otten) gave away multiple shots late in their rounds, otherwise they would have finished a lot better.”

Otten and Zikas were tied with each other for sixth place after Wednesday’s round. Zikas managed to remain inside the top 10 with his two-round total of 72-76–148, good for a share of ninth place. Meanwhile, Otten fell just outside the top 10, scoring out at 72-77–149 (tied for 14th). Zikas’ four top 10 finishes this season are a team best.

The rest of Concordia’s five-member team included freshman Tylar Samek (76-79–155, T-25th), senior Jared Knoepfel (76-84–160, T-36th) and freshman Tyler Knoepfel (80-82–162, T-40th). Three Bulldogs competed individually: junior Tyler Ehresman (78-78–156, T-29th) and freshmen Grant Suchanek (83-87–170, T-56th) and Noah Rohlfing (79-96–175, 62nd).

Concordia managed to beat out the ‘A’ teams from Mount Marty (seventh), Briar Cliff (ninth) and Dordt (10th). The Bulldogs hope to step up their game in time for the GPAC spring championships (April 24-25).

“We were in third going into the day and Dakota Wesleyan passed us,” Muller said. “We’ll be playing with Northwestern and Morningside at conference. Those are the two schools ahead of us (in the GPAC standings). We need to do a better job of competing and playing complete rounds.”

Concordia will take on Northwestern in a match play event April 17-18. The two-day meet will take place at Landsmeer Golf Club in Orange City, Iowa.

Bulldogs slip back to seventh in GPAC standings

EAGLE, Neb. – It was a difficult 36 holes of GPAC action for the Concordia University men’s golf team on Monday. The Bulldogs entered the conference spring championships in third place and seven strokes behind the leader. However, they have slipped back to seventh after turning in team totals of 343 and 324 on a blustery day at Woodland Hills Golf Club in Eagle, Neb.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad now owns a three-round score of 300-343-324–967 with one round remaining in the 2016-17 season. Concordia sported an average team score of 304.1 coming into the week.

“We just didn’t have in the low 70s which we’ve had all year,” Muller said. “Obviously the conditions were extremely tough today, but they were tough for everybody. We just didn’t do a good enough job adjusting to the day.”

Freshman Tylar Samek handled the conditions the best, carding rounds of 81 and 77 on Monday. He’s still within range of an all-conference finish (top 10 are automatic). He’s currently tied for 13th with a cumulative score of 73-83-79–235. The three other Bulldogs that qualify on the overall leaderboard are Nolan Zikas (76-91-79–246, T-27th), Jared Knoepfel (84-82-85–251, T-30th) and Russell Otten (77-92-85-254, 36th). Tyler Ehresman joined the fray on Monday and turned an 87-81–168.

Concordia will attempt to rebound on Tuesday when they return to Woodland Hills for the fourth and final round of the GPAC championships. The action is set to get underway at 9 a.m. CT. The GPAC will have live scoring available HERE.

“We played a little better on the second 18 today,” Muller said. “We need to go out and put up a low score and hopefully move up. We’ve played well at times this semester and want to finish on a high note.”

Bulldogs place seventh in GPAC; Knoepfel finishes strong

EAGLE, Neb. – Hopes the Concordia University men’s golf team had of winning a conference championship were dashed by a rough 36 holes of action on Monday, which was the first of two days at the GPAC Spring Championships. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs left a more positive impression, turning in a team score of 314 for a significant improvement.

When everything settled, head coach Brett Muller’s squad was left with a seventh place conference finish. Concordia concluded the GPAC championships with a four-round total of 300-343-324-314–1,281. The Bulldogs sat in third place following the lone conference round played back in the fall.

“Today was a better day for us,” Muller said. “As a team we got off to a great start on the front nine, but let too many scores slip away late in the first round. I am proud of Jared (Knoepfel) and the way he played in his final round as a Bulldog.”

In his last time out as a collegian, senior Jared Knoepfel carded the team’s lowest round on Tuesday by shooting a four-over-par 75 (tied for fourth best on the day). Knoepfel placed 26th overall in the GPAC with his four-round total of 84-82-85-75–326. The team’s highest place finishers were freshman Tylar Samek (73-83-79-86–321) at 22nd and sophomore Nolan Zikas (76-91-79-77–323) at 24th. Junior Russell Otten was the other Bulldog to qualify for the individual leaderboard. He placed 33rd (77-92-85-79–333).

A 91 in the second round of the championships cost Zikas a shot at repeating a top-10 conference finish. Zikas won or tied for first at both the third and fourth GPAC qualifiers last season as a freshman on his way to a ninth-place claim. Zikas ended up with a team season best average of 76.65 over 17 rounds in 2016-17.

Of the five Bulldogs to compete at the GPAC championships this spring, only Knoepfel is a senior. Concordia will return its top three players, in terms of 18-hole average, for 2017-18.

Zikas garners All-GPAC honors for second-straight year

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Sophomore Nolan Zikas is now 2-for-2. On Friday (May 12), Zikas reeled in his second all-conference honor in as many years. A ninth-place GPAC finisher as a freshman last season, Zikas came in 24th this season at the conference meet. His overall solid season helped him earn an at-large selection from conference coaches as an All-GPAC honoree.

In 2016-17, Zikas played in each of the team’s 17 rounds (eight events) and turned in four top-10 finishes and two top-five placements. Among teammates with at least 10 rounds played, Zikas led the way with a 76.65 season average. The La Vista, Neb., native turned in a season best one-under-par 70 at the Siouxland Invitational during the fall portion of the schedule. Zikas shot a 73 or lower six times throughout his sophomore campaign. Zikas carded a four-round GPAC total of 76-91-79-77–323.

Zikas and the men’s golf program placed seventh in the GPAC (300-343-324-314–1,281).