Kelly fourth, Weldon sixth for Orediggers
EAGLE, Idaho — Tuesday was a bittersweet day for Montana Tech golf coach Sean Ryan.
It was also bitterly cold.
Ryan watched seniors Sean Ramsbacher and Isaiah Weldon putt out for the last time as Orediggers as the Frontier Conference Championships wrapped up at the DanBury Golf Course.
Ramsbacher, a Missoula native who won the 2021 title, finished second while Weldon, a Butte High graduate, finished sixth to lead the Orediggers to second place overall.
The Orediggers also made a final-round run, shooting a 296 on a day that was too windy and too cold for golf.
The run, though, was not enough to catch Rocky Mountain College. The Battlin’ Bears also shot a 296 for an 885 total. Tech, which could not over come a late stumble on Monday, finished at 904.
The University of Providence placed third at 990, Carroll College took fourth at 1,003, MSU-Northern placed fifth at 1,058, and Montana Western placed sixth at 1,156.
“We played really, really well,” Ryan said. “We let us get away from us yesterday on the team side. It’s too bad because this group deserves to hang a banner. They played incredibly well. Rocky just played a little better.”
Rocky’s Mitchell Thiessen followed rounds of 70 on Sunday and Monday with a 74 to claim medalist honors at 214. Ramsbacher carded a final-round 73 for a 220, which was two shots better than Jacob Johnson of Rocky.
Johnson entered the day tied with Ramsbacher.
“Sean put some real pressure on Mitch today,” Ryan said. “He had some great looks, but nothing fell.”
Weldon shot a 76 for a 228 total, which was two shots better than teammate Matt Hobbs. Hobbs, who also hit a final-round 76, placed seventh.
Also for Tech, Jhett Braley finished tied for ninth at 233, and Jace Rhodes took 11th at 234.
A year ago, Ramsbacher won the championship but did not advance to the NAIA National tournament because the Frontier did not have enough teams for an automatic berth. Ryan is hopeful that injustice will be corrected this year.
“We’re hoping maybe he can get an at-large bid in the NAIA tournament,” the coach said. “He’s got a great resume. He left a real mark. He’s going to be a (Oredigger) Hall of Famer one day.”
Ryan also said he is sad to see the two seniors move on, but he is happy to call them Oredigger alumni.
“They left the program better than they found it,” Ryan said.
Rocky also won the women’s crown with a 985 total. The Bears hit 318 on the final round. Carroll took second at 1,012, followed by Tech at 1,028, Northern at 1,359, Western at 1,380 and Providence at 1,447.
Tech junior Emily Kelly, also a Butte High graduate, placed fourth overall to lead four Orediggers in the top nine.
Rocky’s Valentina Zuelta went wire to wire for the win at 218. She shot a 76 on the final round
Claire Wright of Rocky took second at 230, followed by Carroll’s Katie Fagg at 240.
Kelly shot a final-round 83 for a 250, which was one shot better than Ellie Thiel of Carroll.
“Emily played great,” Ryan said of the only player on the Tech women’s team who is not a freshman. “She finished really strong. She put together her best tournament.
“This is the spring that she needed to get confidence and be inspired going into next year. I’m excited to see what she can do next year for us. ”
Oredigger Samantha Benson hit an 84 for a 256 to place seventh. Teammate Franchi Ceartin took eighth at 261, and Tech’s Cierra Sundheim placed ninth at 262.
Also for Tech, Butte High graduate Kennedy Lean had her best round of the tournament, shooting an 88 for a 286 and 13th place.
Ryan said he is looking forward to the future of the Oredigger women’s team with all the young players and the top recruits that will join the team in the fall.
“The future is bright for us,” Ryan said. “Now this group is no longer freshman. We can move forward.”
The tournament was scheduled to be played Monday through Wednesday. The start was moved up to Sunday because of the poor weather in the forecast.
Ryan said that scratching the tournament all together looked like a real possibility over the weekend.
“The No. 1 thing we wanted was the chance to compete,” Ryan said. “That’s the way you want to end your season.”