Van Dyk medals again, South Hardin moves on

STATE CENTER – It’s been a spring to remember for Paige Van Dyk.

Though when it comes to maintaining her consistent success, it’s all about having a short-term memory.

The South Tama County junior took advantage of that strategy Monday, quickly brushing aside a triple-bogey on the second hole to fire a 6-over-par 78 and claim medalist honors at the Class 3A first-round regional at Lincoln Valley Golf Course.

“I was mad at the time, but I know I can’t let those things get to my head, because it just goes bad from there,” Van Dyk said of shooting an 8 on the par-5 hole. “You just have to put it behind you and think that you can get birdies and come back.”

The NICL West Division champ followed through with a birdie on the ninth hole to come through the turn at 42, before closing with a one-over 36 on the back nine. With Monday in the books, Van Dyk has won nine meets this season, though starting anew at the turn helped her finish strong.

“I love starting over because I feel like it’s a fresh start,” Van Dyk said of the back nine, where she bogeyed just twice after four through the first nine holes.

“I just start over like it’s a new day.”

Van Dyk’s clean-slate approach helped her extend a two-stroke edge over the field after nine holes to seven over eventual runner-up Hannah Thompson of Monticello. The Panthers captured the team title scoring 375, while South Hardin also punched its ticket to the regional final round with a 391 and seeks its third trip to state in the last four years.

The Class 3A regional final is Monday at Edgewater Golf Course in Oelwein.

Cami Eller triggered the Tigers carding an 88 with matching rounds of 44, while Monticello’s Allison Ries and Kenadey Porter of West Marshall also qualified individually, each shooting a 93.

Eller, who will play in her fourth regional final Monday, called upon her previous experience in big moments to quell any butterflies early.

“I usually get really nervous, but I just tried to relax and play my game,” said Eller, who is seeking a return trip to state after the Tigers missed the cut last season.

“I just want to be able to take the rest of my team there because it was a lot of fun when I was a freshman and a sophomore. I want them to have that experience too.”

Two of Eller’s teammates, junior Alaina Lake and senior Jaelyn Daggs-Olson, share that state experience and were instrumental in moving South Hardin a step closer to its goal.

Lake turned in a 98, while Haley Lawrence (98) and Daggs-Olson (100) completed the Tigers’ runner-up tally.

“Having that state experience is big mentally,” South Hardin coach Dave Akers said of his team, which played on the big stage in 2010 and 2011.

“They know what it takes. They know the hard work and they know how to play the course and get through bad holes, because they’ve done it before. That experience is priceless.”

While experience and time-tested strategies spelled success for some, for Porter it was a matter of things simply falling in her favor.

“I did better than I normally do. I was really lucky,” said Porter, who also credited her short game in earning the final individual qualifying spot.

Anamosa (403) held off South Tama by a stroke for third, while host West Marshall (413) took fifth. Iowa Falls-Alden and Union each shot 444 and East Marshall (451), led by Alyssa Kozak’s 105, rounded out the field.

Notebook

The top two teams and top five individuals at Monday’s regional final qualify for the Class 3A State meet at Ames Golf & Country Club, May 28-29. … Van Dyk placed fourth individually at state in 2012.