Jack Ritchay, Emmet Herb | 2018 MIAC Champions St. Thomas

Emmet Herb of Middleton, center, and Jack Ritchay of Green Bay, right, celebrate a second-straight MIAC men's golf championship with St. Thomas (Minn.) on Monday.

Of the 13 golfers who have teed it up this fall for the St. Thomas (Minn.) men's golf team, eight have an 18-hole average of 79.88 or better. Five have broken par at least once in 16 rounds, led by Emmet Herb (five times).

But the Middleton native said his Tommies figured out what makes them tick in the week leading up to last weekend's Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship. And it provided them with the confidence and peace of mind to hold off Gustavus Adolphus on the final day, win the biggest event on their schedule and qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship.

"I think a lot of what led to our success is our belief in each other," Herb wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf earlier this week after St. Thomas became the first school since St. John's in 2010 to successfully repeat as MIAC champion. "We have been searching for the right five guys to play and after qualifying this week we all just kinda sat down and realized that we had a great group of guys. We knew we had a lot of firepower and could make a lot of birdies and I think that positive mentality really propelled us forward."

Indeed, the Tommies were a model of consistency from start-to-finish at in cool, rainy conditions at Ridges at Sand Creek GC in Jordan, Minnesota. That included a 36-hole finale after the threat of bad weather Monday prompted MIAC officials to play the final two rounds Sunday. 

Herb led the way with a 70-71-73 card, his 2-under-par 214 leaving him in a tie for second place, four shots behind medalist Jacob Petersen of Gustavus Adolphus (70-69-71). His score counted all three days, but everyone else in the lineup — including former Green Bay Notre Dame golfer Jack Ritchay — took turns contributing to the 291-298-293 effort that helped St. Thomas win by four strokes with an 882 team total, just five strokes off St. John's championship record set in 2006 and four better than the runner-up Gusties, who counted three 71s on the final day and played their 10 holes in 1-under in a dazzling display of par golf, counting five birdies, four bogeys and 31 pars.

"I think the key to our success was being able to be relaxed out there and trusting one another when we’re out there," Ritchay wrote in a Twitter message to Wisconsin.Golf. "The key to my weekend was just staying in the moment and focusing on the next shot and not getting too down or up on the previous shot I had hit. Also I just focused on playing for the team and not... where I was individually. I think everyone on or team was like that this weekend."

Herb was 2-over through four holes each of his three rounds. Yet, he never made the turn in more than 1-over.

"After poor starts to all three of my rounds I kept telling myself that there were plenty of opportunities and took advantage of them to be able to keep my scores below or right around par," Herb wrote. "The whole team took advantage of the par 5s. I think we played them 16-under-par (vs. 1-over for Gustavus Adolphus) and I just tried to make as many birdies as I could."

The victory was a monumental step for the Tommies program in the ultra-competitive MIAC. 

The previous year, they won with four seniors and Herb, now a junior, in the lineup. This year, they had three seniors (Ritchay, Derek Farrell and Matt Mellin), a junior (Herb) and a sophomore (Peder Larson) in the line-up after numerous combinations were tried throughout the fall.

"For us to get back to the NCAAs means a lot because we wanted to back up what the guys and specifically the seniors had done last year," Ritchay wrote. "We also wanted to prove that we were better than what we (had) shot in our previous tournaments."  

The victory gives St. Thomas reason to stay sharp through the winter without having to worry about battling for an at-large berth in the spring. The Tommies' victory earned them the MIAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship for the second year in a row.

St. Thomas, which took the No. 1 ranking in Division III into last spring's national championship at Greensboro, N.C., finished 11th out of 42 teams. The 2019 championship will be played May 14 through 17 at Keene Trace GC in Nicholasville, Kentucky.

"Getting back to nationals is such a weight off our shoulders," Herb wrote. "Even with two wins, we weren’t thrilled with the way our fall went and our showing in the (Division III) preview (at Keene Trace) did not help our case for an at large bid. I think the combo of playing last year and already seeing the course is a big advantage because you know that the competition will be high. But it’s also nice to know that it is attainable and we look forward to the challenge."


Team/Player Leaderboard
Ridges at Sand Creek - 2018 MIAC Men's Championship Par: 72 Yardage: 6961
Ridges at Sand Creek - 2018 MIAC Men's Championship - R2 Par: 72 Yardage: 6805
Ridges at Sand Creek - 2018 MIAC Men's Championship - R3 Par: 72 Yardage: 6921
Jordan, MN US
Oct 6-8, 2018
 
Click on the round header, (Rd 1, Rd 2, etc), to view previous round data
Pos.Team/Player (seed)Rd 1Total
T1St. Thomas, Univ of-MN291291
T2Emmet Herb (1)7070
T5Peder Larson (3)7171
T12Jack Ritchay (5)7474
T16Matt Mellin (2)7676
T16Derek Farrell (4)7676
T1St. Olaf College291291
1Kristian Woie (2)6868
8Adrian Edralin (3)7272
T9Casey Parker (5)7373
T23Noah Parker (1)7878
T30Ben Johnson (4)8080
3Augsburg College298298
T2Brett Buckingham (1)7070
T5Harrison Cooper (2)7171
T23Dakota Krech (3)7878
T28Gunnar Goodmanson (4)7979
T42David Walker (5)8282
4St. John's (MN)301301
T9Matt Wahl (1)7373
T14Jack Koehler (2)7575
T16David Schneider (5)7676
T20Matt Lutz (3)7777
T23Preston Kopel (4)7878
5Bethel University (MN)305305
T5Jon Espe (3)7171
T9Noah Bragg (1)7373
T30Michael Piehler (2)8080
T34Sam Jenson (4)8181
T46Dallas Marvin (5)8585
6Gustavus Adolphus307307
T2Jacob Pedersen (2)7070
T20Max Ullan (3)7777
T28Ben Hauge (1)7979
T34Carter Czichotzki (4)8181
T42Thomas Carlson (5)8282
7Concordia College - MN309309
T12Nathaniel Kahlbaugh (1)7474
T20Gage Stromme (3)7777
T23Matt Kulla (4)7878
T30Blake Kahlbaugh (2)8080
T30Ryan Paskey (5)8080
8St. Mary's Univ.(MN)316316
T16Kyle Brodt (1)7676
T23Bryce Galewski (3)7878
T34Joe Abdo (2)8181
T34Tyler Dove (4)8181
T42Juan Sanchez (5)8282
9Carleton College318318
T14Sam Reatigui (3)7575
T34Avery Tribus (1)8181
T34David Perl (2)8181
T34Peter Gullickson (4)8181
48Aaron Sparby (5)8888
10Macalester College340340
T34Alex Johanson (1)8181
45Jim Smith (4)8484
T46Ethan Deutsch (3)8585
49Karanja Karubiu (5)9090
50Alex Young-Williams (2)00

Rob started covering the Wisconsin golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison & has been the only reporter covering all levels of state golf. He joined Killarney Golf Media in Sept. 2015 & helped launch Wisconsin.Golf in Jan. 2016.