REINBECK - Eighteen holes of golf weren't enough to decide the North Iowa Cedar League West Division girls golf champion Monday at the Oakleaf Country Club.
After 18 holes, South Tama County had secured one championship, but another hung in the balance - between two sisters. Taylor and Paige Van Dyk needed a playoff to decide the champion and medalist. They both shot a 42 on the first nine holes and a 39 on the back nine to finish tied for first with a round of 81.
With the team title already locked up, the senior and sophomore Trojans enjoyed the chance to play together for the first time all day. South Tama won the NICL West championship with a score of 367, which combined the four-lowest rounds of the day. Grundy Center, who beat South Tama last week, finished runner-up with a 386.
The South Tama girls golf team won the NICL West Division Championship Monday at the Oakleaf Country Club outside of Reinbeck. STC shot a round of 367, beating runner-up Grundy Center by 19 strokes. Team members, from left, are sophomore Carrie Cibula, senior Kourtne Smith, sophomore Paige Van Dyk, senior Jenn Maus, senior Tanya Halverson and senior Taylor Van Dyk.
"Coming into a new conference, this is great," head coach Kelle Boles said. "It's fun winning. You can't get any better. We took first as a team and first as an individual. The only difference between first and second, as far as I'm concerned, is the color of the medal. They tied for first."
Although both Van Dyk sisters might have been content tying for first, a playoff is required by the league. They both drove their tee shots into the rough on the right side of the fairway and their second shots ended up just off of the green.
Paige's third shot rolled only a few feet onto the green, leaving the ball about 25 feet from the pin. However, her older sister, Taylor, chipped a shot within three feet of the pin. Paige's long putt came close, but fell short, leaving Taylor with a short putt for the win. She sank the putt, hugged her sister and everyone smiled.
"I had to make that putt," Taylor Van Dyk said. "I was nervous, because I'm the senior. I wanted to win, but it was fun. I was excited to play her in a playoff, because it's something different."
There were no hard feelings between siblings, especially considering Paige has shot better than Taylor at several meets.
"I was happy," said Paige Van Dyk, who won last year's Little Hawkeye Conference title while her sister was recovering from an injury. "She's the senior, so I'm happy for her."
Neither player was excited about their round of 81, but it beat the next two players by seven strokes and was good enough to tie for first. They each began the day with several holes over par, before settling down and playing well for most of the round.
"It was a tough course," Taylor Van Dyk said. "I started out really bad. I had a bogey, double (bogey) and double. Then I decided I had better step it up."
Her younger sister had a similar start to the day.
"I shot OK, but a few holes gave me trouble," Paige Van Dyk said. "Right away, I went bogey, bogey and triple (bogey). That kind of hurt, but I shot par on the rest of the front nine, so I felt better."
Although neither was too thrilled about their score, they were both ecstatic about winning the team championship. This year is the inaugural year for STC in the NICL.
"It feels great," Taylor Van Dyk said. "It was nice to win as a team."
In case winning the league title wasn't enough, the Trojans could also say they avenged a loss from last week. They were defeated by Grundy Center by seven strokes on May 1 at Grundy Center's home course. On Monday, the Trojans won by 17 strokes.
"That's awesome," Paige Van Dyk said. "It's what we were shooting for. We knew it would be close with Grundy, but we got them by quite a bit."
South Tama had three golfers in the top 10 Monday. Senior Kourtne Smith shot a 101, placing 10th overall. Like the Van Dyk sisters, she got better as the day progressed. Smith shot a 51 on the first nine and a 50 on the second nine. Oakleaf is a nine-hole course, so the golfers went around it twice.
"They all came around and did their second round a lot better," Boles said. "We struggled on the front nine, because the grass was a little wet and the ball doesn't roll as far. They knew the course and it's all about course management when you play this game."
Rounding out the scoring for South Tama was sophomore Carrie Cibula. She shot a 104 and just missed the top 10, tying for 13th place. According to Boles, Monday's course fit Cibula's style well.
"This is a good course for Carrie," Boles said. "It's a course where you don't have to hit the ball 200 yards for the first shot. She keeps it down the middle at 100 or 150 yards. She doesn't get herself into trouble. She played well today."
STC's other two golfers were seniors Jenn Maus and Tanya Halverson. They shot rounds of 108 and 120 for the Trojans.
South Tama will have another shot at redemption Saturday, when it hosts a seven-team tournament at the Tama-Toledo Country Club. South Tama will face Grinnell, a squad which has beaten STC twice this spring. The 18-hole tournament begins at 8:30 a.m.
"After getting beat by Grundy Center a week ago, it was kind of frustrating," Boles said. "I sure hope this gives us some confidence. Saturday, we meet Grinnell and maybe third time's a charm. It's on our home course and if we get beat on our home course, we deserve to be second."