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.