Hail Spartans: Grundy Center rolls to sectional title

GRUNDY CENTER The Spartans weren’t quite themselves Tuesday.

Lane Bangasser knew something was off the night before.

Though following a disappointing third-place finish at the North Iowa Cedar League West Division championships, the Grundy Center boys golf team rededicated themselves on the links and rebounded in a big way Friday.

Cruising past their closest competitor by a 45-stroke margin, the Spartans ran away with a Class 1A Sectional Tournament title with a score of 330 at Town & Country Golf Club.

Lane Bangasser, Sam Thompson and Austin Burroughs swept the top three spots for Grundy Center, while North Tama’s Taylor Dinsdale earned the final individual auto bid.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck (375) and GMG (381) also punched a ticket for the district tournament in Oskaloosa Thursday, while the Spartans turned the page on their last outing despite playing a man down.

“You could tell on Monday night at practice that we weren’t really prepared for Tuesday and it showed,” Bangasser said.

“We were really disappointed and it definitely wasn’t the outcome we wanted but we made ourselves feel a little better today.”

Bangasser carded a 7-over 79 (39-40) with a steady round that featured no birdies but also no double bogeys. Thompson was a stroke back for runner-up, while Burroughs (82) and freshman Jesper Holke-Farnam (89) completed Grundy Center’s team score.

Dinsdale (85) finished three strokes in front of the Rebels’ Cam Murphy to keep his season afloat.

Grundy Center wasn’t ready to close the book on 2014 yet either.

“The kids weren’t ready for the season to be over yet,” Spartans coach Dennis Dirks said.

“It was nice to bounce back from the conference meet. They had a couple good nights of practice and they were prepared for today’s meet.”

The Spartans kept their campaign in motion without Nick Saak, the team’s No. 2 scoring average throughout the year, who was out of action because of a “team incident” said Bangasser. He’s expected to return for districts, though the Spartans picked up the slack in his absence to claim their sixth sectional title in the last seven years.

“Before the round I said everyone needed to step up a little bit,” Bangasser said.

“We definitely did in a big way so I’m proud of those guys.”

Dirks credited Thompson for finishing what he started with a complete 18-hole round after Tuesday’s 38-48 split at Tama-Toledo Country Club.

“I’m happy for Sam, he’s finally put an 18-hole round together,” Dirks said.

“We talked about how he needed to be able to finish an 18-hole round and he responded today.”

Joe Smoldt followed Murphy’s lead for Gladbrook-Reinbeck with a 92, while Bryce Ehlers (97) and Bradon Trepp (99) also figured into the team tally as the Rebels return to districts for the sixth straight season.

Chad Plaehn’s 91 paced the Wolverines as Brandon Weizell (95), Bridger Claassen (97) and Austin Vaughn (98) helped clinch the final team berth.

North Tama placed fourth with a score of 402 and Mitch Miller’s 102 lifted BCLUW to fifth (420). Colo-NESCO’s Tanner Clatt turned in a 92 to help the Royals grab sixth (439).

Northeast Hamilton, led by Nick Wallen’s 96, had just three golfers.

A challenging 18 holes awaits the Spartans, Rebels, Wolverines and Dinsdale at the Oskaloosa Golf Course. It opened as a 9-hole course in 1920 before adding another nine holes in 1998, providing a contrast in styles after the turn.

Grundy Center has played a couple practice rounds there and is well aware of the obstacles in front of them.

“The front nine is really tight with a lot of trees and it’s really hilly,” Bangasser said.

“The back nine is longer and more spread out, it’s more of a modern links course. It presents a challenge because you basically have two different modes that you’re playing. You kind of have to flip a switch after the front nine and be ready to play a back nine.”

Notebook

Other teams in next Thursday’s field include BGM, HLV, New London, Winfield-Mt. Union, Holy Trinity Catholic, North Mahaska and MadridThe top two teams qualify for state (three if New Sharon places in the top two) along with the top four individuals including tiesGrundy Center is pursuing its 11th trip to state since 2000This year’s state meet is hosted by American Legion Golf Course in Marshalltown.