Zikas wins second-straight GPAC qualifier; Bulldogs finish seventh

By Jacob Knabel on May. 9, 2016 in Men's Golf

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. – A red-hot spring for freshman Nolan Zikas concluded on Monday as he turned in an even-par 70 at GPAC Qualifier No. 4 held at Two Rivers Golf Club in North Sioux City, S.D. Zikas’ performance helped pave the way for a team score of 296, placing the Concordia University men’s golf team fourth on the day.

Head coach Brett Muller’s squad finished the season in seventh place on the overall GPAC leaderboard with a four-round conference total of 312-316-319-296–1,243. Monday’s score represented an improvement of 23 strokes from the Bulldogs’ previous GPAC qualifier round. It also marked a program all-time best for a conference meet.

“To shoot that low of a score we need multiple guys to play well and that’s what we had today,” Muller said. “Nolan picked up right where he left off at GPAC No. 3 and the Briar Cliff Invite. As a team we came in with a lot of confidence knowing we had set the school record on that same course (291 on April 19).”

Zikas sizzled with a 74.8 average over six spring rounds. After tying for first with a three-over par 74 at GPAC No. 3 on April 11, the native of La Vista, Neb., again equaled a tournament low in his latest outing. Over the final three events of the spring, Zikas turned in place finishes of first, third and first, respectively.

On the overall GPAC individual leaderboard, Zikas placed eighth while carding a four-round 79-79-74-70–302. That finish locked up all-conference honors for the former Nebraska Class A third-place state tournament performer.

“Nolan’s ball striking has been fantastic the last three events,” Muller said. “He made some putts and made some birdies today. Looking back at where he was in the GPAC standings after the fall, he played very well to move up to a tie for eighth.”

Zikas was one of four Bulldogs to shoot a score below 80 on the day. The others were junior Reid Wiebe (73), sophomore Russell Otten (75) and senior Sam Simonson (78). In addition, sophomore Tyler Ehresman carded an 81. Otten, who entered the day tied for 24th on the overall leaderboard, finished with a four-round total of 76-77-84-75–312 (21st). The other Bulldogs to qualify for placement in the individual standings were Wiebe (84-82-75-73–314; T-23rd) and Ehresman (73-80-87-81–321; T-30th).

The season finale leads the Bulldogs into next fall on a positive note. Said Muller, “The last three events showed we’re capable of being a title contender in the GPAC. We need to bring that same mentality and mindset to every event. We’re pretty excited to see how we finished the year.”

Zikas on finish to season:
I am very satisfied with how I played this spring and to close it out with another tie for first in the last GPAC made it that much more special of a season. And this time I got to do it in front of my mom, dad, aunt and grandma which also made it much more special. It feels really good to finish eighth in the GPAC. I know I belong and can compete at this level and be an asset to the Concordia golf team. Now I am going to have to set new goals for next year and go achieve those.

Today's round I started off really hot. I was three-under through two holes and then my putting started letting me down during the round, but I stayed focused on one hole and one swing at a time. I really focused on putting a good swing and good stroke on each shot. I finished even on my first nine after being three-under after two holes. I knew I still had nine holes and many opportunities. Golf is a great game! It can be frustrating at times but yet can be rewarding. God gave me a talent and I am pursuing not only my dream but also what He had planned for me to do. I think I am able to stay so positive because He loves watching me succeed so He helps me do well when I have a good attitude. I play 18 holes of golf and each hole is a new hole. What happened the previous holes is past and I move on to the next while trying to achieve perfection.