Bangasser buoys Spartan victory

Grundy Center wins own eight-team invitational behind meet medalist

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Grundy Center senior Jake Bangasser attempts a birdie putt on the seventh green during his second nine holes in the 40th Spartan Invite on Saturday at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center. Bangasser shot a 2-over-par round of 74 to claim medalist honors for the third time in as many meets this season.

GRUNDY CENTER — Three holes into the 40th Spartan Invite, Grundy Center senior Jake Bangasser had already penciled in more bogeys than he had prior to Saturday’s eight-team tournament.

Fortunately there were an unusual abundance of birdies waiting for him, too.

Bangasser claimed medalist honors for the third time in as many meets, shooting a 2-over-par 74 to win his team’s annual invitational while helping the Spartans stand at the front of the eight-team field as well. Grundy Center finished with a nine-stroke advantage ahead of Roland-Story, shooting 334 to the Norsemen’s 345, and BCLUW took third with a 360.

GMG came away with sixth place at 398, while Gladbrook-Reinbeck rounded out the field in eighth with a 419.

Bangasser climbed to the top of the tournament after claiming runner-up honors each of the last two seasons, and he was one of the Spartans’ four medalists. Matthew Sternhagen tied for fourth with an 84, Andy Cox was seventh with an 87, and Nolan Freeman shared ninth place with an 89.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • BCLUW’s Lane Stanley taps in a putt on the eighth green during Saturday’s Spartan Invite at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center. Stanley led the Comets to third place in the eight-team event with a third-place individual finish.

“I set a goal at the beginning of this year that I would like to finish first or second in all the meets, but I’m not trying to play well for me, I’m trying to play well for these guys,” Bangasser said of his squad. “I’m trying to be a leader for them, trying to be a model for how we can play Grundy Center golf.

“It’s nice to be able to shoot well and everybody else is improving, too, so it’s nice to meet individual goals as well as team goals.”

Grundy Center led a usual cast of suspects at the top of the team standings as Roland-Story was second and BCLUW third for the third consecutive spring. Saturday’s nine-stroke win was the Spartans’ largest margin of victory since 2014.

“Usually we have a night off before the Spartan Invite to practice up, but this year we’re going to have to play our way into game shape because outside practices have been limited,” Grundy Center head coach Dennis Dirks said of the soggy and snowy spring weather. “One of the goals this year as it is every year is to play well at the Spartan Invite, and they did well today again.”

Dirks acknowleged Bangasser’s medalist round for how dominant it was — Roland-Story’s Will Larson was six strokes back in second — but pointed to Sternhagen’s 3-over 39 on the second nine that helped Grundy Center gain some distance on the Norsemen.

“I think that’s the difference this year, these guys are adjusting to knowing their scores are going to matter and that’s tough when you go from just going out to play golf to knowing your score is going to matter,” Bangasser said. “They’ll get to where they need to be. They’ll continue to feel some pressure, which will continue to drive them to get better, so I’m excited to see where we can go. We work hard every day so hopefully it’s only down from here.”

Bangasser opened the season with a 1-under 35 to win medalist honors in a dual meet with East Marshall at Wandering Creek Golf Course in Marshalltown, featuring a birdie on the first hole of the spring and eight consecutive pars.

In Friday’s triangular at Oakwood Golf Course in Conrad, Bangasser bogeyed the eighth but parred the rest on his way to a 1-over 36 and another first-place medal.

A day later, Bangasser was 2-over after three holes, but filled the rest of the scorecard with four birdies, seven pars and four bogeys for his third top finish in as many tries.

Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 during his second nine holes sparked the Spartan’s finish.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“I would say by no means is my game in perfect form right now,” Bangasser smiled, “but I’m just trying to be good at the small things and everything else will fall into place. I haven’t taken any penalty strokes this year, I haven’t taken any double bogeys, so if you do that it’s all OK. I hope the other guys can model after that and make their game better and continue to not make mistakes and we’ll get to where we want to be.

“I had four birdies which in a round I usually don’t do. I’m not really a birdie-birdie-birdie type of guy, I usually try to stay at par, so six bogeys was not what I was looking for going into the day. But I’m thankful I could throw in some birdies to help out.”

BCLUW’s third-straight third-place finish in the Spartan Invite was led this time around by Lane Stanley, who carded one birdie during his bronze-medal round of 81. Keegan Rhinehart grinded out a 91, Calob Keller came in with a 93 and Blake Mann scored from the sixth position with a round of 95.

“There’s strokes out there we can do better, but a 360 in our third meet after playing back-to-back days, we’re happy with it,” said Comet head coach Heath Rhinehart. “There’s room for improvement, so that’s what we’ll hope for.”

The Comets played their first two meets at home, so getting on the links at Town & Country Golf Club was ideal for BCLUW considering the NICL West Division meet and their Class 1A sectional meet will be played there as well.

“Not only just playing against Grundy, but playing at Grundy,” coach Rhinehart stressed. “Anytime we can get a meet here it’s great for the kids to be able to see the course.”

Both GMG and Gladbrook-Reinbeck will play sectionals in Grundy Center as well. GMG was led on Saturday by Aaron Fleming, who carded consecutive rounds of 46 for a team-leading 92. Kolton Gill came out of the No. 6 spot to contribute a 99.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s eighth-place result was paced by Matt Johannsen’s 98.

40th Spartan Invite

At Grundy Center

Town & Country Golf Club, par 72

Team Standings — 1. Grundy Center 334, 2. Roland-Story 345, 3. BCLUW 360, 4. Union Community 370, 5. Osage 396, 6. GMG 398, 7. Hudson 408, 8. Gladbrook-Reinbeck 419.

Individual (top 10) — 1. Jake Bangasser, GC, 74; 2. Will Larson, R-S, 80; 3. Lane Stanley, BCLUW, 81; 4. (tie) Matthew Sternhagen, GC, 84; Tyler Risdal, R-S, 84; Drew Olson, Osage, 84; 7. Andy Cox, GC, 87; 8. Kyle Cowell, Union, 88; 9. (tie) Nolan Freeman, GC, 89; Carson Ehrenberg, R-S, 89.

GRUNDY CENTER (334) — Bangasser 74, Sternhagen 84, Cox 87, Freeman 89, Travis Kuester 94, Tanner Appel 96.

ROLAND-STORY (345) — Larson 80, Risdal 84, Ehrenberg 89, Nick Stole 92, Max Halstead 96, Mitch Shorkey 103.

BCLUW (360) — Stanley 81, Keegan Rhinehart 91, Calob Keller 93, Blake Mann 95, Brad Barkema 99, Jonny Neff 113.

UNION COMMUNITY (370) — Cowell 88, Devin Reel 91, Caleb Reel 94, Lincoln Mehlert 97, Jacob Bechthold 97, Brandon Stecht 113.

OSAGE (396) — Olson 84, Isaac Oberfoell 101, Jayden Hanson 101, Gavin Schaefer 110, Shawn Eichmeier 113, Ty Creger 118.

GMG (398) — Aaron Fleming 92, Kolton Gill 99, Ryan Hunt 103, Kamrin Chizek 104, Hunter Smoldt 116.

HUDSON (408) — Jacob Weirsma 91, Al Hageman 104, Joel Culham 104, Garrison Thompson 109, Lane Marlow 119, Wiley Souhrada 125.

GLADBROOK-REINBECK (419) — Matt Johannsen 98, Walker Thede 102, Mason Skovgard 108, Tyson Creswell 111, Bronson Wrage 124, Kyle Koppen 130.