Van Dyk undaunted by difficulties

NEVADA – Thunder and lightning halted her momentum. Unforgiving greens continued to send her shots astray. And a couple high rounds even gave Paige Van Dyk a little trouble in keeping track of her score.

None of it was enough to stop the South Tama County senior from winning once again.

Overcoming a weather delay, fast-moving greens and a stiff challenge from Nevada’s Christine Ausman, Van Dyk shot a 14-over 84 Monday to claim medalist honors in a Class 3A first-round regional at Indian Creek Country Club.

The Northern Iowa signee turned in a pair of 42s to take her 10th victory in as many meets this season and earn a trip to a regional final at Kalona Golf Club on May 27.

“Today I was (shooting) so high that I was losing track of where I was at, which isn’t usual for me,” Van Dyk said. “I was just trying to stay positive, but it got kind of hard when I’d hit perfect shots on the greens and they’d roll 20 yards off. That’s just what I had to deal with and I just made the best of it.”

Van Dyk edged Ausman through a two-hole cardback posting a 4 to Ausman’s 6 on No. 16, though the host Cubs ended up taking the team title with a tally of 378. Ausman led by two strokes after the first round but had a triple-bogey on 14 and a double on 16 as Van Dyk rallied.

“I knew I just had to keep doing my best,” Van Dyk said of the first-round deficit. “I don’t play against my opponents, I just play against myself and just try to get the best score that I can.”

South Hardin (406) held off Waterloo Columbus by four strokes for the second team qualifier bid, while the Trojans (415) finished fourth in the eight-team field.

Two holes into the action, thunder and lightning forced the players into the clubhouse for a 45-minute delay.

The Tigers welcomed the break and used it as a chance to refocus after a slow start. Alaina Lake led the charge with a third-place score of 91 and Haley Lawrence also qualified individually with a 95. Waterloo Columbus’ Cassidy Boe (92) sealed up the last individual bid.

“I think it was kind of nice,” Lake said of the delay. “The nerves were kind of gone then. We just came back out and it was fun to play.”

Lake sliced five strokes off her first-round 48 and Lawrence put up near-identical rounds (47-48) while Kristin Mathis and Alyssa Diedrich each carded a 110. Putting and piecing together a strong score had been issues for the Tigers the past few weeks but they put those issues behind Monday.

“The girls really came together and played when it counted,” South Hardin coach Dave Akers said. “We’ve been struggling the last few weeks with short games and scoring but today on a tough course and a windy day, they really came through. I’m really proud of them, today was a do-or-die day and they did it.”

The Tigers were a distant fourth at the NICL West Division Championships in State Center last Tuesday and finished 33 strokes behind South Tama, though they heeded their own motto and moved on.

“The back of our shirt says, ‘The most important shot is the next one,’ so that was our mindset today,” Lawrence said. “We just played our own game.”

The early intermission had a reverse effect on South Tama though the Trojans rebounded in the second round.

Carrie Cibula fired a 97 while Laurel Scharnweber and Trisha Walz each carded 117. Walz improved six strokes for a second-round score of 55.

“They all said they were doing pretty well before (the delay) and then they went back out and I think that affected them a bit,” STC coach Melinda McDowell said. “They didn’t do well the first couple holes but after that they got back into it. Those first few holes kind of hurt us after the break.”

While the early struggles may have kept the Trojans from advancing as a team, Van Dyk had an optimistic view on her day – believing better scores are ahead.

“I’m looking forward to finally getting back to what I normally shoot in the 70s,” said Van Dyk, who won Saturday’s South Tama Invite with an 80, “I guess it’s better to have these rough times now than at state.”

Notebook

The top two teams and top five individuals in the regional final advance to the Class 3A State meet at Ames Golf & Country Club on June 2-3. … Van Dyk is the defending Class 3A state champion and has won medalist honors in 21 straight meets. … Lake was a freshman on the Tigers’ last state qualifier squad in 2011.