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Ellia Soydara Claims NJCAA Division III National Championship, Spartan Men Finish 5th

By Craig Olson, 06/07/24, 2:45PM CDT


Ellia Soydara turned in the best score of the day during the fourth and final round of the NJCAA Division III National Championship Golf Tournament at Chautauqua Golf Club in Chautauqua, New York, firing an 81 and increasing her lead to 7 strokes over the field as she captured the National Championship with a 4-day total of 322.  Haley Cassells of College of DuPage was second with a 329 and her teammate, Ivy Burnett finished third with a 330.  Soydara had consistent rounds of 81-79-81-81 to reach her 322 total.

More details will be added when they are received.


Ellia Soydara after winning the championship (Photo taken by Jeff Haukos).

Ellia Soydara hits her approach shot on the 14th hole in the final round of the championship. (Photo taken by Levi Soydara).

More on Ellia Soydara’s 2023-24 Golf Season:
*She was the medalist in 7 of the 8 events she competed in.
*In competition this year, only one player bettered her as she finished in 2nd place in the only tournament she didn’t win.
*She broke the following M State women’s golf records:
                -Lowest season scoring average: 76.9 (14 rounds).
                -Lowest single round scoring record of 66 at the Spartan Invitational.
                -The round of 66 also broke the women’s individual low round record for Pebble Lake Golf Course in Fergus Falls.        
               -Lowest two-day score of 137 (68-69) at the Valley City Invite.
               -Named the M State Women’s Co-Student Athlete of the Year.
               -Ellia has signed a national letter of intent to play golf at Dickinson State University on a full-ride athletic scholarship.  

Charlie Fuder chips onto the green on the 15th hole in the final round of the championship. (Photo taken by Jeff Haukos).

Individual Spartan Scoring:
30. Brock Thompson (80-85-77-81=323), T35. Charlie Fuder (80-82-81-83=326), T38. Adam Vatnsdal (79-83-83-84=329), T50. Markus Nelson (83-89-81-86=339), 52. Riley Stromlund (90-78-86-86=340).

Complete results of the championship can be found here:

Soydara is the first Spartan women’s golfer in school history to earn national championship honors.  Wyatt Blomseth won the individual championship as a Spartan on the men’s team in 2021.

Soydara is also the first ever M State women’s golfer to be a two-time First Team All-American, after a 4th place finish last year and the title this year.

 “What an amazing week for Ellia and our Spartan golf program,” stated Head Coach Jason Retzlaff of M State.  “I was so proud of the way she played all week, but especially today in the final round.  Friday was easily the most difficult day with rain and heavy winds throughout the round.  She got off to a nice start, but struggled with a four over par stretch from holes 7-9.  With all the pressure on, she responded to that adversity with seven consecutive pars to essentially seal the championship on the back nine.  I can’t say enough about her execution, course management, and self-belief under pressure.  She had a low of ‘wow’ shots and had the discipline and maturity not to force the issue if she got in tough spots.  I’ve said before that Ellia works as hard and is as prepared as anyone I have ever coached.  It is so special to see that type of effort culminate in a moment like this.  We are so happy for Ellia and her family on her tremendous accomplishment.”

Head Coach Jason Retzlaff was named the Women's Coach of the Tournament.

Ellia Soydara with her medalist plaque after winning the championship. (Photo taken by Jeff Haukos).

Ellia Soydara being celebrated by her Spartan teammates. (PHOTO by MINDY FUDER)

The Spartan Men shot a final round team score of 334 to finish in 5th place.  Brock Thompson had the low Spartan score of the day with an 81 and Charlie Fuder added an 83.  The Spartans have finished in the top five of the national tournament in 11 of the past 12 seasons.  Sandhills CC shot a 287 and won their 4th consecutive national championship with a new 4-day record of 1140.  Daniel Aitken of Sandhills won the individual championship with a five-under-par, four-day total of 283, beating his teammate and 2023 champion, Ben Read, by one shot.

“I was very pleased with the week our men had,” said Coach Retzlaff.  “The final round was the toughest for conditions and they hung in there.  They competed and fought for every shot.  Going into the week, we felt a realistic goal for our team was to finish in the top five and we accomplished that.  We had different players throughout the week step up and shine at different times.  It was another great experience at Chautauqua playing golf and spending time together as a team.  The entire season and our players were a pleasure to coach.  All seven of our players are not only good golfers, but high-quality individual.  I appreciate all of their work and the way they represented M State."                                       

Photo of all Spartans (men and women) who competed at the championship. Names (left to right): Head Coach Jason Retzlaff, Ellia Soydara, Charlie Fuder, Erik Bjorndahl, Riley Stromlund, Adam Vatnsdal, Brock Thompson, Markus Nelson, Assistant Coach Jeff Ha