STATE CENTER - For the first time in her young, illustrious career, Paige Van Dyk will be advancing in the postseason alone.
As a freshman, she had her older sister and her South Tama County teammates at regionals. Last year, she was part of the fourth-place team at state. Now, the STC junior heads to the second-round regional tournament by herself.
Van Dyk won the Class 3A first-round regional on Monday afternoon. However, the Lady Trojans finished fourth in the team standings. A first or second-place finish was necessary for advancing to the last regional round.
Monticello won the meet by posting a team score of 375, which consisted of the four lowest individual scores on the team. South Hardin finished runner-up and advanced with a score of 391. Anamosa was third with 403, while South Tama posted a 404.
"I was really hoping the team would qualify," Van Dyk said. "They said they will come support me, so that's really nice."
Van Dyk posted a score of 78, which was the lowest individual score of the day by seven strokes. STC junior Carrie Cibula had the next lowest score of 101. Laurel Scharnweber shot a 106 after closing her round with a 49 on the front nine. Elysiana Gonzalez shot a 119 and Erin Clayton shot a 126 on the day.
Class 3A Region 3B
At State Center
Lincoln Valley Golf Course, par 72
Team Standings - 1. Monticello 375, 2. South Hardin 391, 3. Anamosa 403, 4. South Tama County 404, 5. West Marshall 413, 6. (tie) Iowa Falls-Alden 444, Union 444, 8. East Marshall 451
Individual qualifiers - 1. Paige Van Dyk, STC, 78; 2. Hannah Thompson, Mont, 85; 3. Cami Eller, SH, 88; 4. (tie) Allison Ries, Mont, 93; Kenadey Porter, WM, 93
The Lady Trojans score of 404 was its lowest score on an 18-hole course this spring. All six players, four of whom never played golf before this season, on the team return next year.
"Laurel Scharnweber had a 49, which was so exciting because it's the first time she's shot in the 40s," coach Kelle Boles said. "Elysiana played well. I told the girls we needed to be under 400 to go and we almost made it.
"Those young girls can get in there and play more before next year," she said. "They will get better and we have Paige and Carrie coming back. I think we'll be tough next year."
Van Dyk will be the only Trojan playing Monday at Edgewater Golf Course in Oelwein. Her round on Monday started out rough as she shot a triple bogey on the second hole. Her rare "snowman" or 8 on a hole bothered her, but she moved past it.
"I was mad at the time, but I know I can't let those things get to my head, because it just goes bad from there," Van Dyk said of shooting an 8 on the par-5 hole. "You just have to put it behind you and think that you can get birdies and come back."
The star junior shot par on most of the other holes on the front nine. She even birdied the ninth hole to finish with a seven-over-par score of 42. She led all golfers at the turn, but she knew her score could drop significantly.
"I love starting over because I feel like it's a fresh start," Van Dyk said of the back nine. "I just start over like it's a new day."
On the back nine, Van Dyk scored mostly pars, but struggled to shoot a birdie despite several chances. She finally scored a birdie on the 17th hole. After waiting more than 10 minutes to find an opponent's lost ball, Van Dyk sank a 10-foot putt to shoot a 3 on the par-4 hole. She finished the back nine with one-over-par score of 36.
"It was pretty much expected that Paige would move on," Boles said. "She got off to a little bit of a rough start. But like Paige always does, she came right back and got back into her normal play."
Now she advances to play Monday at Oelwein. The top five individuals from Monday advance to the state tournament. That will be held May 28-29 at the Ames Golf and Country Club.
"It's exciting, because I know the things I can do at state this year," Van Dyk said. "I just have to keep going and practicing hard."