Runaway Thain: Vikings Up Big At GNAC Championships
Western Washington senior Aidan Thain shot a record-tying round of 64 and leads the GNAC Championships by eight strokes at 11-under-par 131. Photo by Shawn Toner.
Western Washington senior Aidan Thain shot a record-tying round of 64 and leads the GNAC Championships by eight strokes at 11-under-par 131. Photo by Shawn Toner.

Monday, April 18, 2022

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Western Washington senior Aidan Thain tied a GNAC Championships record and a GNAC spring season record by shooting a 64 in the second round of the GNAC Men’s Golf Championships at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. The record round punctuated a day where he finished at 11-under-par 131, eight strokes ahead of Max Turnquist of Saint Martin’s.

“I’m a little speechless,” Western Washington head coach Luke Bennett said. “I am really glad Aidan is on this team. Today was a special one for the team and I am looking forward to seeing how we come out tomorrow.”

The large individual lead for Thain was the standard-bearer for Western Washington's dominance in the team competition as well. After 36 holes, the Vikings hold a 19-stroke lead over Simon Fraser, tallying 558 to SFU’s 577.

“It was a really solid team effort,” Thain said. “I think we came into the tournament knowing we were the guys to beat. We just tried to keep the pedal to the metal.”

Thain was also the tournament leader after 18 holes, albeit by a smaller margin. He birdied four of the first nine holes against one bogey, then birdied the 18th hole to finish with a 4-under-par 67. At that point, Thain was one stroke ahead of Simon Fraser freshman Ryan Hodgins at 3-under-par 68 and two ahead of Northwest Nazarene’s Cole Evarts at 69.

But as the second round teed off in the afternoon, Thain found another gear. Thain, ranked first in the GNAC and 96th in the country according to Golfstat, repeated his first-round pattern of four birdies and one bogey over the first nine then caught fire on the backstretch. He hit five birdies – including four on the final five holes – to shoot 4-under-par over the back nine and 7-under-par 64 for the round.

Thain’s 64 puts him in some elite company among WWU and GNAC history, as he tied WWU alum Brett Johnson’s 64 from 2016 for the lowest round in GNAC Championships history. The mark also tied the lowest spring round in conference history at any tournament, with Thain and Johnson joining fellow Vikings Craig Crawford (at Grand Canyon in 2012) and Ethan Casto (at the Mustang Intercollegiate in 2018) at 64. The lowest round in GNAC history remains WWU alum Jake Koppenburg’s 62 at Grand Canyon in the fall 2007 season.

Thain was the highlight of a dominating team performance for Western Washington, as all five of the Vikings golfers sit in the top 15. Conrad Brown carded two rounds of 70 to sit in third at 2-under-par 140 while Jordan Lee is in fourth at 141. Seth King is tied for ninth at 4-over-par 146, with a low round of 72, while Devin Andrews is tied for 13th at 147.

“We’ve had a really solid spring, building off a good fall, and today showed how the hard work has paid off,” Bennett said.

While Thain and Western Washington both have large leads with two of three rounds completed, the action behind them is poised to go down to the wire.

Simon Fraser sits second in the team standings at 577, led by freshman Bailey Bjornson, who sits fifth at even-par 142 after rounds of 70 and 72. Ryan Stolys is tied for eighth at 4-over-par 146 while Hodgins fell in the second round to 5-over-par 147 and is tied for 13th.

Saint Martin’s is third in the team standings, five strokes behind Simon Fraser at 582. Turnquist turned in a 3-under-par 68 second-round score to move up four places into second. The Saints also got a magical moment from freshman Carter Sheets, who shot a hole-in-one on the par-3, 119-yard fifth hole in the second round. Sheets is in 22nd place at 8-over-par 150.

Montana State Billings is in fourth but made up plenty of ground in the second round. Seniors Riley Kaercher and Riley Lawrence both shot 78s in round one but 68s in round two, moving up 12 spots in the second round alone to tie for eighth at 4-over-par 146 through two rounds. Dawson Strobel is MSUB’s top placer on the leaderboard, tied for sixth at 144. The Yellowjackets have a team score of 585, three back of Saint Martin’s.

Northwest Nazarene is in fifth place but just two strokes behind MSUB at 587. Individually, the Nighthawks are led by Evarts, who is tied with Strobel for sixth at 144 after his first-round 69 and a second-round 75.

The final men’s round is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. Live leaderboards are available at Follow @GNACSports on social media for potential weather updates and video from the tournament.