AMES - There wasn't a lot of people who would have doubted South Tama County's Paige Van Dyk heading into the final round of the Iowa Girls State Golf Tournament.
The Trojan junior held a six-stroke lead coming into Wednesday's final 18 holes and led by four strokes with six holes remaining before play was halted due to heavy rain and lightning.
In the end, the final decision was to wash out the entire final round and take just the results from the first 18 holes and that gave Van Dyk her first individual state championship as she rose to the top of Class 3A with a first-round 1-under 72 at Ames Golf and Country Club.
PHOTO BY JIMMY GILLISPIE/TAMA-TOLEDO NEWS
South Tama County Paige Van Dyk receives her medalist award at the Ames Golf and Country Club on Wednesday. The final 18 holes were washed out, and Van Dyk’s first-round score of 72 ended up being the winning mark in Class 3A.
"I knew if I could get a lead on that first day than I could win this thing. Getting the lead just made things easier today," said Van Dyk, who finished fourth last year. "It didn't matter. I would have won anyway. I had six holes left and was up four strokes. So I knew I just had to keep playing and doing what I was doing and I would be fine."
Van Dyk had not given up a four-stroke lead with that few holes remaining all season, according to her dad Randy Van Dyk, who also is an assistant coach.
"I wanted to finish to know for sure that I would have won, but I know that I would have," Van Dyk said. "I wouldn't have wanted to wait until 6 tonight anyway. It's over and I won so I am very happy."
Ames Golf and Country Club, par 73
Team Standings - 1. Carroll Kuemper Catholic 367, 2. Dyersville Beckman Catholic 374, 3. Unity Christian 383, 4. Williamsburg 393, 5. Cascade 394, 6. Atlantic 401, 7. Waterloo Columbus Catholic 402, 8. Clarinda 411.
Individual (top 10) - 1. Paige Van Dyk, South Tama County, 72; 2. Kate Coyle, CAS, 78; 3. Makayla Ernst, East Sac County, 80; 4. Brooke Fletcher, ATL, 83; 4. Blair Klostermann, DBC, 83; 6. Tessa Swacker, WCC, 84; 6. Christine Ausman, Nevada, 84; 8. Brooke Klosterman, DBC, 85; 9. Alyssa Fedders, UC, 86; 10. Morgan Naberhaus, CKC, 87.
Van Dyk's 72 was six shots better than Cascade's Kate Coyle, who fired a 78 on Tuesday. Makayla Ernst of East Sac County was third with an 80. Brooke Fletcher of Atlantic and Blair Klostermann both fired 83s but Klostermann took fourth due to a card-back tiebreaker.
Beckman Catholic ended up with two individuals in the top 10 - Brooke Klostermann was eighth - but Carroll Kuemper Catholic claimed the team title after a first-round 367. Beckman Catholic was second at 374, Unity Christian took third with a 383 and Williamsburg (393) and Cascade (394) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Van Dyk championship run was a perfect way to end Kelle Boles' run as South Tama County girls golf coach. She resigned from her position recently after her husband was transferred to Ohio for his job.
"It's a great way to go out. To finish with a state champion is awesome," said Boles. "I would have liked to see her finish it out. She kind of struggled today so I wanted to see how she could respond in the clutch. But either way, it is special."
Van Dyk started her final round with a birdie but then gave back two shots to Coyle somewhere in the next 11 holes. She said she wasn't quite focused enough during the early stages of the round but was confident she would have finished strong.
"I wasn't concentrating enough. I wasn't feeling it. But I was still doing just fine," Van Dyk said. "I knew to myself that I could have finished strong. I was up four and was confident."
It has been quite the run for the Van Dyk family. Paige Van Dyk was fourth last year, while her sister Taylor, who currently golfs at Northern Iowa, took sixth and advanced to the state tournament three times.
"It is very deserving. She works hard at it. I am proud of her," said an emotional Randy Van Dyk. "Helping coach her makes it more special, but it's more stressful too. We have been doing this since she was 5. You follow her for how many years? It's a big day."
Boles added, "Paige has worked very hard. The family came up a little short last year, but they have their state championship that they worked for. To go out like this is sweet."
Paige Van Dyk will likely look back at her ability to chip in round one. If she wasn't hitting a perfect shot off the tee, she was saving par with impressive chips. She also made a few long putts on her way to 13 pars, three birdies and two bogeys through the first 18 holes.
"My chipping was on. Even when I didn't hit the green, I could get up and down and still make par," Paige Van Dyk said. "I am glad it's over. It was really stressful and a lot of hard work. I wrote down four goals at the beginning of the year and reached all of them. I wanted to be conference champ, be undefeated, average in the 30s and make it to state and win state."
The Class 4A tournament also was washed out at the Ames Golf and Country Club on Wednesday and Class 5A never got started at Lake Panorama National Golf Course.
That gave Charles City's Jessie Sindlinger her fourth straight individual title, which has only happened one other time in Iowa back in 1958. She shot an 8-under 65 on Tuesday and bested the next best golfer - MacKenzie Black of Independence - by eight strokes.
Charles City also won the 4A team title with a 320, finishing well ahead of second-place Cedar Rapids Xavier (352), Clear Lake (360) and Grinnell (360).
Randy Van Dyk also resigned his position as a paid assistant golf coach. He served more than 25 years as the South Tama County boys coach and told the T-R on Wednesday that he is open to coaching next year on a voluntary basis. ... Paige Van Dyk still has one more year to collect another state title. "That gets me excited even more. I just need to keep working and I can come back and do it again," she said. ... Sindlinger has signed a National Letter of Intent to play golf at the University of Iowa in college. ... Grundy Center claimed the Class 1A team title, while Alta-Aurelia won the 2A championship. ... Waukee's 325 at Lake Panorama National Golf Course was enough to beat Pleasant Valley by 15 strokes in Class 5A. Pleasant Valley's Anna Cullinan was the individual champion though after her first-round 76.