Spartans sweep East Marshall in NICL golf dual

GRUNDY CENTER – The Class 1A defending state champion Grundy Center girls’ golf team began its title defense with an easy victory in its NICL opener against East Marshall on Friday.

The Spartan boys also recorded a win against the Mustangs at Town & Country Golf Club.

Senior Hillary Samo carded a 42 and her teammate and best friend Lindsay Freeman delivered a 43 to lead the Spartan girls to a 189-241 win, while Lane Bangasser and Nick Saak were medalist and runner-up on the boys side as Grundy Center carded a 170 and beat the Mustangs by 16 strokes.

“I felt like it was a good start,” said Bangasser. “We were hoping to be in the 160s. There were some first-meet jitters. It’s nice to get those out of the way and we’ll have a good test on Monday to see where we’re at.”

The Grundy Center girls won a state-record 12th state championship last spring and welcome back a bulk of that roster in 2014. Josie McMartin, the team’s No. 1 golfer for most of last season, will miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season as she recovers from knee surgery, but the rest of her teammates picked up the slack Friday.

That included Samo, who spent most of the offseason battling and winning a bout with cancer. Freeman, Maddy Grineski and Kate Ross also are back as the Spartans had little trouble claiming their first win of the season.

“The fact that Josie is out and we still shot a 189 tells me that we should be pretty competitive this year,” said Grundy Center girls coach Rick Schupbach. “We’ll drop down about 15 strokes once she gets back. I couldn’t be more pleased with this first meet.”

Samo and Freeman both played better than bogey golf and Grineski, who was 23rd at the state meet last year, carded a 47. The final counting score of 57 came from Reagan Derrick. Ross finished with a 60 and Sarah Hockemeyer shot a 65.

“I had a good day. I missed a lot of short little putts,” said Freeman. “It’s a good place to start, but it’s those little putts that I missed that made me mad.”

East Marshall also is without its top golfer, Sydney Hennricks, but McKenzie Fahmi finished with a team-best 53 and Sarah Pippin carded a 59. The other two counting scores were Haley Kilborn’s 64 and Breanna Stewart’s 65. Haley Hemann also had a 72 and Marissa Frese turned in a 76.

The Spartan boys, who also qualified for last year’s state meet, were equally impressive in their opener.

Bangasser, a Central College signee, shot a 40 despite taking a 9 on the par 5 No. 2.

That quadruple bogey allowed Saak to stay close, and Sam Thompson finished with a respectable 44. Austin Burroughs (45), Jasper Holke-Farnam (46) and Tanner Pelzer (46) were just off the pace as well.

“It went a little better than I expected,” said Grundy Center boys coach Dennis Dirks. “We haven’t had a lot of time to practice so there is a lot of room for improvement. I saw some strokes being thrown away. We can definitely improve. It’s a good start to the season.”

East Marshall got a 43 from Zack Johnson, while Zach Underhill carded a 45 and Drake McKeever had a 46. Nate Rosfjord was the final counting score with a 52. Dru Bolliver (54) and Kaleb Turner (65) also competed for the Mustangs.

“We are still getting used to the greens,” said East Marshall co-coach Denny Paul. “We took way too many putts and we can definitely improve there. But we hope to lower the scores as we go.”

Jared Freeman won the junior varsity meet but would have been third on the Spartan varsity squad after firing a 44. The Spartans’ JV team ousted East Marshall, 205-230, and got a 49 from runner-up Dan Knock.

Notebook

McMartin was 16th at the state meet last year. The Grundy Center boys finished sixth at the state meet last year but graduated Elliott Eggleston, Nathan Graham and Ryon Appel from that team. Samo’s first nine holes of the season included four pars, while Freeman had three pars and a birdie on the par-3 No. 4.

The Spartans will host South Hardin at 4:30 p.m. Monday.