Ben Gardner couldn’t keep up his remarkable start to the MSU Billings Invitational, but the freshman still came away with a top five finish on Tuesday at Lake Hills Course in Billings.
Gardner finished his final round with a 76, to tally a three-round total of 219. He shot a two-round total of 143 on Monday, firing rounds of 72 and 71. He finished 3-over-par for the event.
"Ben had another great tournament which is what he has done all season," Saints coach Bennett MacIntyre said. "A Top 5 performance is a good indication of what he can do next month at the conference championship."
Rocky Mountain College’s Michael Tait came away with the lowest card, shooting a 206 over three rounds to finish 10-under par. Tait shot under par every round.
Carroll remained in fourth place after the final round, with a 914. MSUB won the event with a 874, followed by Rocky Mountain College’s 888 and Montana Tech’s 907.
Austin Egan shot his best round of the invitational, carding a 73 to finish with a grand total of 226, which put him in a tie for 12th place. Rounding out the Saints’ team score were Joseph Potkonjak’s three-round total of 230, a 241 from Greg Jones -- who had a significant improvement in his final round, shooting a 73 -- and a 271 from Justin Galiher.
"Both teams improved and our men are starting to kick it into gear," MacIntyre said. "We showed that we're close to the top teams in both the men's and women's conference standings based on today's 18 holes. We just have to keep working and improving as we get closer to conference championships. We will start ramping up the practices as we get ready to compete at conference end of April."
Carroll’s women’s team saw Katie Goins shave nine strokes off her first round, shooting a 75 on Monday, which trailed only Great Falls’ Gina Kowolchuk, who shot a 74 and won the event.
"I'm excited that Katie got a PR today," MacIntyre said. "She played extremely well, and I am excited to see her get into a groove as we prep for the conference tournament."
The Saints remained in fifth place on the final day. Rachel Miles matched her first-round total with a 83 on the second day, finishing with a 166 and tying for 15th place. Jaylin Kenny finished with a total of 175, Cailin Spencer shot a 179 overall and Gabrielle Jones carded a 184 to round out the Saints’ team totals.
Carroll finished behind Montana State Billings, which won the event with a 618, Rocky Mountain College’s 656, Minot State’s 684 and Black Hills State’s 667.
The Saints’ next meet is the Frontier Conference Championships, held in Tempe, Arizona, from April 24-26.