CONRAD Before the 2013 spring sports season began, Kelle Boles wasn't sure if she'd have a full squad for competition.
Then winter extended its season through March and into early May. Most spring teams have struggled to find time for practice between competition and cancelations because of weather. With the weather diminishing the season and only two returning players, the South Tama County girls golf team looked to be incomplete.
Once the season began, the Lady Trojans added four girls, who were completely new to the sport. More than one month later, the defending North Iowa Cedar League West Division champions were once again near the top of the NICL.
South Tama junior Paige Van Dyk watches her putt on the final hole of action Monday at the Oakwood Golf Course in Conrad. Van Dyk won the NICL meet and helped the Lady Trojans finish runner-up as a team.
On Monday, South Tama played the Oakwood Golf Course for the NICL meet. Grundy Center ran away with the team title, scoring a 349 on the 18-hole course. STC narrowly beat the other six teams to finish runner-up. The STC team score was 413, which was less than 15 strokes ahead of the next three teams.
"I'm very excited," Boles said. "We started somewhere in the 220s and now we're in the 205 range (for nine holes). In the first round, they struggled a bit. It could have been the dampness or the dew on the ground, but they came back in the second round and that's how we were able to finish second."
One big reason for the second-place finish was the low score of the day posted by junior Paige Van Dyk. The STC junior shot a six-over score of 76, which was six strokes ahead of the second-place girl, after shooting two nine-hole rounds of 38.
NICL West Division Championship
Oakwood Golf Course, par 35
Team Standings - 1. Grundy Center 349, 2. South Tama County 413, 3. South Hardin 420, 4. AGWSR 425, 5. West Marshall 427, 6. BCLUW 446, 7. East Marshall 486, 8. Gladbrook-Reinbeck 505.
All-Conference (top 9) - 1. Paige Van Dyk, STC, 76; 2. Lindsay Freeman, GC, 82; 3. Baylie Wrage, GC, 84; 4. Josie McMartin, GC, 87; 5. Cami Eller, SH, 88; 6. Hillary Samo, GC, 96; 7. Meghan Heinz, AGWSR, 99; 8. Carrie Cibula, STC, 99; 9. Shayla Moler, WM, 100.
GRUNDY CENTER (349) - Freeman 82, Wrage 84, McMartin 87, Samo 96, Maddy Grineski 111, Delaney Sandell 116.
SOUTH TAMA (413) - Van Dyk 76, Cibula 99, Laurel Scharnweber 112, Elysiana Gonzalez 126, Erin Clayton 133.
SOUTH HARDIN (420) - Cami Eller 88, Alaina Lake 104, Haley Lawrence 112, Jaelyn Daggs-Olson 116, Kristin Mathis 124, Haley Dilley 135.
AGWSR (425) - Meghan Heinz 99, Maddie Heinz 103, Brooke Harrenstein 107, Emily Brekunitch 116, Ashley Sicard 116, Morgan Rose 126.
WEST MARSHALL (427) - Shayla Moler 100, Kenadey Porter 105, Claire Underwood 110, Rory Dunn 112, Savannah Zahnd 126.
BCLUW (446) - Laura Crawford 107, Norah Sams 112, Shelby Trinkle 113, Sarah McCoy 114, Rebecka Keller 114, Molly Pieper 122.
EAST MARSHALL (486) - Sydney Henricks 115, McKenzie Farhni 117, Alyssa Kozak 120, Sarah Pippin 134, Haley Hemann 157.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (505) - Callie Kuehl 124, Taylor Flamme 124, Rebecca Franksain 127, Kayla Gutknecht 130, Erin Wentzien 133, Ashley Moore 150.
"It helps tremendously to have someone who can score under 40," Boles said. "She wanted to be under 38 her second round, but she bogeyed the last two holes. Anyone else would take a 38 each round."
Van Dyk finished second at the NICL meet a year ago. She tied her older sister, Taylor, who is now playing for Northern Iowa University, for the league title. Taylor Van Dyk won the playoff hole by one stroke.
"It felt a lot better, because I wasn't competing against my sister, of course," Van Dyk said. "I was more relaxed this time.
"It's crazy," she said of the spring weather. "I didn't practice for three days straight, because of the weather. I played for the first time yesterday. Then I just came out today and played. I didn't think much about it and just played. Everyone else has the same weather, but I think I have the advantage because I have more experience."
She wasn't the only medalist for the Lady Trojans. Junior Carrie Cibula, the only other returning player from last year, placed eighth with a score of 94. Cibula tied for seventh but lost the playoff hole to earn her first-ever NICL medal.
"Isn't that awesome for Carrie," Boles asked? "She hasn't placed at a lot of meets. She's come so close and taken third place many times. That was exciting for her."
The other three players for South Tama were Laurel Scharnweber, Elysiana Gonzalez and Erin Clayton. Scharnweber finished her day with a nine-hole round of 51 to shoot a 112 on the day Gonzalez shot back-to-back rounds of 63 to finish with a 126. Clayton shot seven shots better on the second nine (63) to shoot a 133 on the day.
"I've seen the improvement," Boles said of her first-year players. "We still haven't had much time to practice. We picked up a meet tomorrow at State Center. So we'll have another practice round at the course we'll play next week."
South Tama will compete in the Class 3A Regional First Round on Monday at the Lincoln Valley Golf Course in State Center.