ANKENY - Casual spectators could have never known South Tama's girls golf team got bumped one spot by rival Grinnell if they watched the post-tournament celebration.
All seven members of the Trojans' squad were smiling and posing with their team-participation trophy outside the clubhouse at the Otter Creek Golf Course. On the outside, the STC girls were happy with their fourth-place team finish, but on the inside, they were hurting.
"Losing to Grinnell is the worst thing ever," said sophomore Paige Van Dyk, who led the Trojans with an individual fourth-place finish. "It was by one stroke. We got a trophy and that's what we wanted."
South Tama's girls golf team finished fourth at the Class 3A state tournament. Team members, front row (left to right) are Carrie Cibula, Amelia Hoskey and Taylor Van Dyk. Back row are assistant coach Randy Van Dyk, Tanya Halverson, Kourtne Smith, Paige Van Dyk, Jenn Maus and head coach Kelle Boles.
As the scores were being posted, the South Tama team, coaches and families watched in anticipation. Clear Lake and Charles City had separated themselves as the top two, but third place was still up for grabs.
South Tama was in third, but a few scores were still missing. Three of those scores were from Grinnell players. After those were posted, the Tigers clipped STC by one stroke.
"It was very heartbreaking," head coach Kelle Boles said. "Grinnell was the last team they put up and we got beat by one stroke for third place. I'm proud of every single one of the girls. They played their hearts out and they wanted to win as badly as I wanted them to win."
Clear Lake won its second title in three years with a two-day total of 676, while last year's Class 3A state champ, Charles City, finished runner-up with a score of 680. Grinnell shot a 702 to place third.
South Tama, who made its first trip to the state tournament since 1998, shot a 359 on the first day and a 344 on the second day. The 344 was one stroke higher than the Trojans' best all season, which came at their home invitational.
"We shot at our best," Boles said. "You can't ask for more than that. Our girls played well and I'm so proud of them."
Individually, the Van Dyk sisters led the way once again. Sophomore Paige and senior Taylor earned top-10 honors. They were each given a medal and plaque for their success.
"Paige and Taylor strutted their stuff," Boles said. "They are happy to be fourth and fifth in the state and 3A is one of the hardest classes."
Paige Van Dyk shot an 83 on the first day, where players battled 25-30 mph winds all day. She came back and shot a 75 on the par-71 course on the second day, finishing with a total of 158. Her score placed her fourth.
"Yesterday, I was a little disappointed," Van Dyk said. "It came out OK. You had to use a lot of clubs and play smart in that wind. You never knew what might happen.
"Today, I played a lot better, except on the last two holes," she said. "Other than that, I played really good. I was hoping for top five, so fourth works for me."
Paige Van Dyk was one of four non-seniors in the top five at the 3A state tournament.
"She has a great career ahead of her," Boles said. "She has college coaches already looking at her. She's a good prospect to go far, along with Taylor."
Taylor Van Dyk led the Trojans with an 80 on the first day. She came back with a 79 on the second day. She shot par on 14 of the holes last Wednesday, but over par on the other four. She tied for fifth place, but finished sixth on the tiebreaker. Van Dyk finisher her career as a three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist, after finishing seventh a year ago.
"She had a great four years and improved every year here (at state)," Boles said. "She'll have bigger and better things going at UNI."
Seniors Kourtne Smith and Jenn Maus finished third and fourth for the Trojans on both days. Smith had a tournament-total of 189 (97-92) to tie for 28th place, while Maus had 197 (99-98) to tie for 36th.
Carrie Cibula had 203 (103-100) and as a sophomore she joins Paige Van Dyk as the non-seniors on STC's roster. Amelia Hoskey shot 108 on Tuesday, while Tanya Halverson had a 111 on Wednesday.
"I'm going to miss our five seniors deeply," Boles said. "They were a fun group to coach and a great group of young ladies."
With only two players returning next year, the Trojans have been talking to fellow students about playing next spring.
"We've got a few that are recruited to come out next year," Boles said. "Paige has been on the recruiting campaign. We have a few that should be coming out and they have golf experience."