STATE CENTER – A brief error in the final results forced several girls to swap medals during the awards ceremony at the West Marshall Invitational Tuesday.
Sitting well ahead in first place, Paige Van Dyk was unaffected.
It was a fitting summary of the South Tama County senior’s season so far as she claimed her fifth medalist honor in as many meets and once again wasn’t worried about the rest of the field.
Van Dyk fired a 2-over-par 74 to finish seven strokes ahead of Nevada’s Christine Ausman and lead the Trojans to a third-place finish in the 18-hole event at Lincoln Valley Golf Course.
“I just have my goal to keep averaging in the 30s,” Van Dyk said. “I’m not worried about any of my competition. I just have a set goal for myself each round.”
The future Panther opened with a pair of bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes before coming back with birdies on 13 and 14 to shoot an even-par 35 on the back nine. Van Dyk bogeyed Nos. 3, 5 and 8, but added another birdie at 7.
“I started off with two bogeys but I knew there were a lot of par 5s that I could come back and get birdies,” Van Dyk said. “I struggled on my yardages. I hit everything good and clean, I just misread the distances. I had three three-putts which hurt me but 2-over is still good with all that.”
Nevada placed three in the top-10 to run away with the team title at 358 while Grundy Center was 42 strokes back in second (390) and South Tama took third (406). West Marshall (431) held off BCLUW by three strokes for fourth, while East Marshall took sixth at 446 and AGWSR rounded out the nine-team field with a 481.
Christine and Claire Ausman (84) placed second and third, while Maddie Beauchene (93) added a seventh-place performance for the champion Cubs. Grundy Center’s Lindsay Freeman and Hillary Samo carded 87 and 91 to finish fourth and sixth respectively, though the Spartans struggled again on the greens.
“It’s becoming painfully obvious to me that we need to spend a lot of extra time on our short game, we’re just throwing away too many strokes,” Grundy Center coach Rick Schupbach. “As a result we’re not playing up to our capabilities but that’s what you’re supposed to see during the season. You start to identify those things and hone those areas to make them become strengths so you can become better as a team.”
The reigning Class 1A state champs will welcome back 2013’s top member, Josie McMartin, from injury around May 1 though Schupbach said the Spartans can’t rely on her addition alone to reach their goals.
“That’s going to help us but if we’re still throwing this many strokes away, it’s not going to get us where we need to be,” he said.
“We can’t rely on that and think that’s going to make the difference. Each one of us right now should be trying to do that much more and spending extra time on our game to play a few strokes better to make up the difference. We’re just not there yet. We need to try to get there before tournament time.”
Samo opted to skip the putting game altogether on the third hole with a chip-in from well off the green that kissed off the pin before falling in the cup.
Maddy Grineski and Sarah Hockenmeyer each turned in 106s to complete the Spartans’ team tally.
The short game also proved to be South Tama’s Achilles’ heel, though Trojans coach Melinda McDowell said part of that is from a lack of practice time on the course due to the weather.
“We haven’t really been able to get out on the course for practice so hopefully tomorrow and Thursday we can work on that before our next meet,” McDowell said.
Carrie Cibula came through at 93 for eighth, while Erin Clayton filled with a 113 and Trisha Walz shot 126. STC was without their usual third player, Laurel Schwarnweber, who is on vacation but will return for Friday’s home dual against Grundy Center.
“Erin played really well today and stepped up since we’re missing Laurel,” McDowell said.
West Marshall’s Kenadey Porter toured the home course in 96 to garner ninth, while PCM’s Cassidy Van Veen (fifth, 91) and Breanna Maher (10th, 101) rounded out the top-10.
BCLUW’s fifth golfer, Maddy Reyes, led the Comets with a 102, while Sydney Henricks’ 109 served as the pacesetter for East Marshall. Ashley Sicard turned in a 106 to guide the Cougars.
The Spartans travel to Nashua-Plainfield Thursday and South Tama Friday. AGWSR faces South Hardin on the road Thursday. BCLUW hosts East Marshall Thursday and travels to Gladbrook-Reinbeck Friday.