The Mines golf team dominated the competition last week, as Jim Knous and Cory Bacon finished first and second respectively and the Orediggers won the RMAC Conference Tournament in Litchfield Park, Arizona.
Mines ended a 44 year drought, earning their first conference championship since the 1968 season. The Orediggers won three conference tournaments during the 1960s, but have not been able to match that success until last week when they shot 15 strokes better than second place Western New Mexico.
After rounds one and two, Mines was cruising with each of the school’s five participants finishing in the top fifteen. Bacon led all individuals after scoring a tournament-best 69 on the first round followed by a 75 on the second round. Heading into round three, he held a one stroke lead over teammate Knous, who finished the second round with a 71.
Each of the five Oredigger participants struggled during the third round, as each scored their lowest total during the final 18. Knous turned in Mines’ best third round finish with a 75, two strokes better than Bacon’s 77, and just low enough to push him into first place for his first RMAC individual title.
For Knous, the individual title is his fourth of the season, and caps off a solid RMAC career. With the individual title, Knous was also named the RMAC Men’s Golfer of the Year and named to the First Team All-RMAC. Knous has now been named First Team All-RMAC in each of his four seasons as an Oredigger. The first place finish was also Knous’ fourth top finish this year. He had three in the last three years combined.
Following behind Knous and Bacon, CU transfer Kyle Grassel also cracked the top ten, finishing tenth with a three round score of 228 (72-72-82). Michael Lee finished in 20th (80-75-79-234) and Jordan Arndt placed 25th (79-76-80-235) to round out the scoring. For their performances, Lee was named Second Team All-RMAC while Bacon and Grassel were both named Third Team All-RMAC.
Mines is now primed for a national championship run. Head coach Tyler Kimble has quickly turned the Orediggers into a serious contender in just his fifth season as head coach. In addition to leading Mines to their first conference championship since 1968, Kimble was also named the 2011-2012 RMAC Coach of the Year.
As a team, the Orediggers have now won three consecutive tournaments and six overall this season. With the team title, Mines now advances to the NCAA West/Central SuperRegional Tournament at the same course from May 7-9. The West/Central SuperRegional is one of four SuperRegionals in the country. The top five team finishers at each SuperRegional Tournament will then advance to the 50th annual National Championship Tournament in Louisville Kentucky, May 15-19. Mines is currently the top ranked team in the West/Central Region and looks to advance to Louisville after finishing 13th at the SuperRegional in 2011.