Garrigan wins 1A golf title

MARSHALLTOWN?- Bishop Garrigan’s Dean Lallier and Grundy Center’s Dennis Dirks shared similar sentiments following the final 18 holes of the Class 1A boys state golf tournament on Saturday at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course.

Anything can happen.

It was a mantra the two coaches had in common from the first swings leading into the spring golf season, and it came to fruition this weekend in Marshalltown.

For the second time in state tournament history, the Golden Bears and Grundy Center finished 1-2 in the season-ending meet, even though the Spartans had to hold off some hard-charging competition in moving from bronze to silver over the final 18 holes.

Garrigan’s opening-day 308 total was too far out front for the rest of the teams to catch as the Golden Bears went wire-to-wire for their 10th boys’ state golf title, tying the program for third-most championships all-time. This was the seventh time they did it without a first- or second-place medalist, once again displaying the depth that got Garrigan to the top.

The Bears’ 308-315-623 total was 20 strokes better than Grundy Center’s runner-up rounds of 325-318-643, yet the Spartans learned just how much every stroke matters despite the distance between first and second. Griswold finished 329-315-644 to take third by one stroke, and East Buchanan – behind freshman medalist Chris Cooksley – was another shot back at 330-315-645.

Riverside of Oakland, which stood second after Friday’s first 18 holes, fell all the way to sixth (321-343-664). Winfield-Mt. Union moved into fifth (340-318-658), while Newell-Fonda and Lisbon tied for seventh with 682 totals.

This marked the third state championship in the last five seasons for Bishop Garrigan, but the first for Lallier as the team’s coach.

“On this team we have one guy that was kind of the standout No. 1 all season long, but the rest of them two through six, I could have flip-flopped them every day,” Lallier said. “I bet every tournament we played in we had a different top four each time.

“This weekend our sixth man counted one day and our fifth man counted one day. It’s a deep team and they know they have the support of the other guys.”

Grundy Center, in the state tournament for the 17th time in the last 23 years, wasn’t so sure when the season began. The Spartans experienced the highs and lows, even finishing third in a North Iowa Cedar League West Division conference meet they often dominate.

But the Spartans got a sectional meet at home, which they won, before winning a district meet on an Oskaloosa Golf Course it hadn’t previously played.

Giving themselves a chance, the Spartans nearly made the most of it with a runner-up finish even Dirks didn’t see coming.

“I really didn’t know we could advance this far in the tournament,” Dirks said. “The district at Oskaloosa, which we had never played before, had at least two other teams (Winfield-Mt. Union, New London) that played in the state meet last year and both of which had all of their players from last year.

“We put in a lot of time going to Oskaloosa playing that golf course and I thought we knew it as well as any other team at that district meet, and it paid off for us. This just sort of worked out OK, obviously since we won the district, so it worked out real well for us last week.”

Playing some of its best golf of the season, Grundy Center kept the trend going with two of their best 18-hole rounds at state.

Lone senior Lane Bangasser shot 75-75-150 to tie for third place, while freshman Jesper Holke-Farman finished off a fabulous state debut with 81-80-161 to tie for 20th overall. Nick Saak rebounded from a rocky start on Friday to post the Spartans’ second-best Saturday round, going 85-79-164.

Bangasser said he was feeling sentimental after his final high school meet, even though he’ll take his talents to Central College in Pella in the fall.

“There’s nothing else like high school golf,” he said. “You get really close to these guys and that’s the best part about it.

“We knew we had potential but as we saw how well teams around the state were playing, I’m sure we got a little nervous throughout the year. But I knew we had potential because, I’d safely say, we’re the hardest working team in the state. We earned it, we earned this trophy, this second-place finish.”

Austin Burroughs put up an 84 to contribute his score on Saturday after Sam Thompson and Tanner Pelzer shared the fourth-score honors on Friday at 85.

The Spartans were seven strokes better the second time around, just good enough to get past Griswold and East Buchanan for the second state runner-up trophy in school history.

“We talked a little bit (Friday) night about the fact that we knew we could have played better,” Dirks said. “Anything’s possible, you don’t know what can happen. We were trying to catch Riverside (for second) with Griswold and East Buchanan right behind us, we knew it was going to be a dogfight.

“When it gets down to the state tournament, what it amounts to is who plays well. The teams that play the best are going to win a state championship. Those that don’t play their best probably walk away with something less than what they wanted, but our kids on this golf course shot better than their season average so they’re walking away fairly happy.”

Garrigan’s state title came without the scoring services of its lone senior Michael Berke. One of two holdovers from the 2012 Golden Bears’ state champion squad, Berke was unable to match the numbers put up by his younger teammates. Junior Jess Marlow was the team’s low scorer both days, shooting 76-74-150 to tie for third along with Bangasser and Central Decatur’s Noah Simon.

Marlow is the Bears’ only junior. Sophomores Andrew Lallier and Zach Boelter along with freshmen Donovan Berte and Logan Capesius – both famed names of golf lore at Garrigan – should keep the program’s rich tradition running into the future.

“I told the boys if we can score at home (Spring Valley Golf Course, Livermore) and at Spencer for districts, I think we can shoot pretty good at Marshalltown,” said Coach Lallier. “And they did. That was the goal all year was to get to state, and once you get here anything can happen. And they played smart today.”

Griswold’s charge to third place was propeled by sophomore twin brothers James and Jake Reynolds, both of whom tied for seventh at state a year ago.

East Buchanan’s big move was marked by Cooksley’s second-day round of 2-over-par 72, which included three birdies and five bogeys. Cooksley needed just one hole of a sudden-death playoff to shake Alta-Aurelia sophomore Josh McCormick for the state medalist honor. McCormick held a five-stroke lead after Friday’s even-par 70, but a second-day 77 brought him back to the pack.

Grundy Center, like five of the other 1A state teams, will bring back five players next season.

“I told the kids, sometimes in life it’s just being at the right place at the right time, and I think (Marshalltown) was the right place for us and at the right time,” Dirks said. “We were playing our best golf at the end of the year, and absolutely these guys are tickled to death to be state runner-up. Things had to fall in place for us to be state runner-up.”