GIRLS STATE GOLF: Grundy Center as good as gold

With hands locked together forming a straight line seven members long, the Grundy Center girls golf team awaited their moment atop the podium.

The all-for-one gesture fittingly depicted how the Spartans claimed their 12th state championship in school history – yet another that every team member had a hand in.

Proving that every player counts, Grundy Center used a scorching second round effort from its fifth golfer, Lindsay Freeman, to edge out two-time defending state champion Bishop Garrigan of Algona by two strokes with a score of 711 at the Class 1A Iowa Girls State Golf Tournament at American Legion Golf Course Wednesday.

“So many people see golf as an individual sport, but at Grundy Center in Lady Spartan golf, it’s all about the team,” Spartans coach Rick Schupbach said after the Spartans raised their state title total to 12, the best in Iowa.

“We didn’t fire on all cylinders on either day. That shows me we really were the strongest team.”

Following an opening round score of 98 Tuesday, Freeman tallied two birdies and dropped 14 strokes to chip in the final scoring tally for Grundy Center. Hillary Samo fired an 83-84-167 to place third overall, while Jose McMartin and Baylie Wrage each shot 181s with identical 88-93 tallies.

McMartin, the team’s ace through the year, never completely found her rhythm in the tournament, but valued the boost from her teammates to step up.

“It’s good to know that when I’m playing bad, there’s the team there to have my back,” said McMartin, who was fifth in Class 1A this year with a 84.6 18-hole average. “It feels good to know that they’re there for me.”

Grundy Center needed every contribution to fend off the hard-charging Golden Bears, who were propelled by a scorching second day performance from medalist Alexa Capesius.

Capesius birdied three holes and made par on 12 more to tally an even-par 71 for the second round and a two-day total of 150 – finishing 14 strokes ahead of Valley’s Jodi Schott. Valley placed third in the eight-team field at 719.

As the scores started to pour in on the leaderboard, the Spartans anxiously waited to see if they’d done enough to hold off Bishop Garrigan and Valley after earning a four-stroke cushion Tuesday.

Once Freeman’s 84 surfaced on the board, the Spartans sensed the championship in their grasp.

“It was really nerve-wracking but we worked our butts off all year and it’s really paid off,” said Samo, who along with Wrage battled back from an early season shoulder injury.

“It was so close, we had to fight for every stroke.”

Wrage saw her prep career come full circle after also competing on Grundy Center’s 2010 championship team as a freshman. Though this year’s title meant even more for the lone senior on the Spartan squad, as she saw how each member factored into the winning equation.

“You kind of appreciate your team more because they give you a lot more margin for error,” Wrage said of her squad, which also received a 193 from Maddy Grineski and a 285 from Delaney Sandell.

“Most teams wish they had the bond we have.”

Those tight Spartan bonds extended to their large fanbase, which was visible everywhere around the course donning neon yellow shirts.

“That’s what makes it really special here too,” Schupbach said of the Grundy Center fan support. “The program is built on a family atmosphere. When we can share it with all these people, it’s so much more fun.”

Notebook

Rick Schupbach has been at the helm for all 12 of the Grundy Center girls golf team titles, the most in Iowa. … The Spartans return five of their top six players next year. … Alternate Kate Ross rounded out Grundy Center’s seven-member squad. … Wednesday marked the Spartans’ 23rd state appearance. … Along with 12 state titles, Grundy Center has finished runner-up four times including 2012.

Cyclones cruise in 2A

Doubling its 24-stroke cushion from Tuesday, Alta-Aurelia ran away from the field for the Class 2A title in the Girls State Golf Tournament at American Legion Golf Course Wednesday with a final tally of 684.

Dike-New Hartford was 48 strokes back at 732, while Nashua-Plainfield (739) edged Emmetsburg (748) for third.

Alta-Aurelia’s entire scoring quartet finished in the top-12 as Kelsi Snyder (168) and Lexie Patton (169) led the way finishing eighth and ninth, respectively. Erica Lockin (11th, 173) and Jenna Snyder (12th, 174) were close behind as the Cyclones jumped three spots from a year ago.

Nashua-Plainfield’s Sarah McMichael held on to her slim lead at the top to claim medalist honors by firing a 10-over 81 after her 79 from Tuesday for a score of 160. Briana Weber of Dike-New Hartford maintained her spot in second (161), while Missouri Valley’s Taylor Gardner was two strokes back in third (163).