Grundy Center rallies from 11-stroke deficit to win Class 1A state golf title

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • The Grundy Center boys’ golf team poses with its Class 1A state champion banner and trophy on Friday at Westwood Golf Course in Newton. Pictured from left are: Tanner Appel, Jake Bangasser, Matthew Sternhagen, Nolan Freeman, Andy Cox, Travis Kuester and head coach Dennis Dirks.

NEWTON — Nolan Freeman stood on the 12th green wondering just how costly that triple bogey on his last hole would be for his team. Jake Bangasser slapped his leg after missing his par putt on the 11th.

Grundy Center’s seniors weren’t sure how this one was going to end.

Thirty minutes later, the Spartans arrived at the outcome they’d always dreamed of.

A 29-stroke improvement from the first round to the second rallied Grundy Center from sixth place to the top of the nine-team field in the Class 1A Boys State Golf Championships on Friday at Westwood Golf Course.

Unsatisfied with the feeling they left the clubhouse with on Thursday yet only 11 strokes off the pace, the Spartans showed upon when it mattered the most and made a comeback to behold. Grundy Center overtook first-day frontrunner Harris-Lake Park for a four-shot victory, 683-687, and the third boys’ state golf title in school history.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • The Grundy Center boys’ golf team comes forward to accept the Class 1A state golf championship trophy after Friday’s second round of play at Westwood Golf Course in Newton. It’s the Spartans’ third state title in program history.

Bangasser, who shot a second-day score of 3-over-par 74 to finish in fourth place individually, accepted the championship trophy on behalf of his teammates and squeezed it tightly as a throng of family and friends pulled out their smartphones to capture the moment.

“This is something that I have absolutely always dreamed of,” Bangasser said. “After the first day it didn’t look very pretty, but kind of like in life and sometimes in golf you do get second chances and it’s whether or not you grasp them and today we absolutely had a chance to go out there and do it and we did.

“We made the most of our opportunities, we improved by almost 30 strokes and it was enough to do it, which means the world. It was a team effort, everybody had to do their part for us to go home with this trophy which is what we worked for all year.”

Harris-Lake Park dropped three strokes from its first-day total of 345 with Friday’s 342, but Grundy Center’s second-day 327 was the best 18 holes shot by any team in the tournament by 15 strokes.

Behind Bangasser’s 74, juniors Matthew Sternhagen and Andy Cox shot 78 and 84, respectively, and Freeman’s 91 finished off the scoring for the Spartans. It was the round Grundy Center believed it was capable of on Thursday yet failed to deliver on.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Grundy Center senior Jake Bangasser pitches into the 11th green during Friday’s second round of the Class 1A boys’ state golf tournament at Westwood Golf Course in Newton. Bangasser shot 81-74—155 to finish in fourth place individually.

“The two days were so different,” said Grundy Center head coach Dennis Dirks. “We went from the outhouse to the penthouse in a matter of 24 hours. These guys didn’t play as well as they wanted to yesterday — it wasn’t because of a lack of effort, it was because of a lack of execution and they were trying their hearts out, but I think sometimes they tried too hard and put too much pressure on themselves. Today they were loose.”

Sternhagen, who tied with Cox for 20th place individually, said the Spartans managed to keep their spirits high overnight after focusing on the 11-stroke difference rather than the sixth-place standing.

“We went back to the hotel room to look at the scores and I remember Jake saying, ‘Guys, we still have a shot at this thing. We’re 11 strokes off and we did not play well at all,’ so we came onto the course today knowing that,” said Sternhagen. “We said if we come out and play our best golf, we’ll see what happens at the end of the day.

“Jake’s our Mr. Positive. He even jokes that his blood type is B-positive.”

Better believe it.


“Nobody played what they were capable of yesterday but we knew it was just 11 strokes, we knew what we could do, we knew what we were capable of as a team, we just needed everybody to do their own part, stay focused for 18 holes,” Bangasser said. “We knew if we did that it would give us a chance to go home with a trophy and we’re very thankful it was this one.”

Bangasser’s round started with birdies on two of his first five holes and missed opportunities for more. He made the turn and bogeyed five of his next seven holes before back-to-back birdies on the par-5 Nos. 8 and 9, but closed with a pair of bogeys on his last four holes.

It wasn’t enough to catch East Buchanan senior Jacob Hesner, who captured his first individual title to go with 1A state team titles the last two seasons. Hesner shot 73-74–147 to hold off Winfield-Mt. Union senior Kaleb Hagge, who became the second player in state golf history to finish with two individual titles (2015, 2017) and two runner-up medals (2016, 2018) with his 74-74–148. Bishop Garrigan sophomore Andrew Arndorfer was third at 76-75–151.

“You’re always trying to fill the shoes of the people before you, whether it be my brother [Lane] or any other Grundy Center golfer,” said Bangasser. “Mr. Dirks has done this state stuff for a long time and we’re just trying to do the best of our ability but also continue the legacy of Grundy Center.”

The Spartans were playing in the state tournament for the 19th time in Dirks’ 25 seasons at the helm, including nine of the last 10 years. This marks their first title since winning the 2A title in 2003 and 2005.


“We’ve spent a lot of time here at state meets but we haven’t had that first-place trophy in a while,” said Dirks. “We talked about the fact that we could get first and we could get last. We just decided we were going to come with a different mindset today, try to make every shot count, value every stroke and it worked out for us.

“They were determined to come back and prove they were better than that and I’m happy for them they did that.”

Freeman, who carded just three pars on the day and finished with his only triple bogey, said he felt like he had let the team down. Standing on the par-4 12th green after tapping in for a 7, his mind started racing.

“I was contemplating a lot of different things,” said Freeman, who will play football in the fall at Upper Iowa University. “I figured we’d lose by three strokes because I knew the other guys were playing really well and I thought I had just ruined it for us.

“I played better than yesterday and felt a lot better about my game, although I didn’t play that well today, but I am just overjoyed that we ended up winning and I’m glad it all worked out. It’s so much more than individual. This season I haven’t played as well as I should have and now that we’re state champs that all means nothing. This is probably the coolest thing that’s happened to me. It’s great that as a team we succeeded and that’s what was important to us.”


Cougar junior jumps 13 spots on day two

AGWSR junior Alex Hames rebounded with an 11-stroke improvement in the second round to climb 13 spots into a tie for 23rd overall at the Class 1A meet.

Hames battled to a 10-over-par 45 on the back nine but shot a 1-over 37 on the front, finishing the tournament with a 93-82–175.

A day after having just four pars on his scorecard, Hames charted eight pars during Friday’s second round and also dropped in a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole.


wins 2A tourney for Wolverines

Dike-New Hartford senior Bo Weissenfluh finished his senior year with a state championship on Friday, as he won the individual side of the Class 2A State Golf Championship at the American Legion Memorial Golf Course with a 36-hole score of 4-over-par 144.

Weissenfluh was able to hold off Kolby Shackleford from Panorama, who finished the tournament in second with a 5-over 145.

Kuemper Catholic took the team championship at the Legion with a total of 604, shooting a consistent 302 on both days. PCM came in second with a 619, while Des Moines Christian took third with a 623.

Central Clinton wins 3A state title

FORT DODGE — Central Clinton wrapped up its season with a Class 3A state title on Friday after finishing off the 3A State Championship at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course with a team score of 609.

The Sabers were the 18-hole leaders after shooting a 300 on the first day, and they closed out strong as well with a 309 on day two, only beaten by Spencer who shot a 307.

Nevada was the team runner-up with a 630, while Clear Lake finished in third with a 631.

Lucas Scherf from Grinnell won the 3A individual title by shooting 2-under-par 142 for the tournament, finishing his final state meet with a 2-under 70 on Friday. Tucker Kinney from Central Clinton came in second with a 2-over 146, while Rielly McGranahan from Central Clinton and Noah Hartman from Ballard tied for third with a 147.

Boys State Golf Tournament


At Newton

Westwood Golf Course, par 71

Team Standings — 1. Grundy Center 356-327–683, 2. Harris-Lake Park 345-342–687, 3. Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton 350-346–696, 4. Winfield-Mt. Union 353-348–701, 5. (tie) Westwood 348-357–705, New London 356-349–705, 7. Bishop Garrigan 352-356–708, 8. IKM-Manning 375-346–721, 9. Fort Dodge St. Edmond 371-373–744.

Individual (top 7) — 1. Jacob Hesner, East Buchanan, 73-74–147; 2. Kaleb Hagge, WMU, 74-74–148; 3. Andrew Arndorfer, BG, 76-75–149; 4. Jake Bangasser, GC, 81-74–155; 5. Austin Eckenrod, Mason City Newman, 78-79–157; 6. Elijah Lamoureaux, WW, 80-79–159; 7. (tie) Lucas Gunderson, HLP, 83-78–161; Ethan Streicher, Edgewood-Colesburg, 83-78–161; Clayton Phillips, NL, 82-79–161; Kyler Rasmussen, IKM, 85-76–161.

GRUNDY CENTER (683) — Bangasser 81-74–155, Andy Cox 89-84–173, Matthew Sternhagen 95-78–173, Nolan Freeman 93-91–184, Tanner Appel 93-94–187, Travis Kuester 98-95–193.

HARRIS-LAKE PARK (687) — Gunderson 83-78–161, Isaac Ihnen 85-87–172, Bryce Perkins 88-87–175, Adrian Martin 89-90–179, Jaxson Heikens 91-100–191, Bret Sohn 96-97–193.

EXIRA/ELK HORN-KIMBALLTON (696) — Everette Carroll 86-78–164, Will Carroll 83-85–168, Cole Burmeister 87-94–181, Cole Madsen 94-89–183, Tyler Petersen 100-114–214, Dalton Vanderwal 123-112–235.

WINFIELD-MT. UNION (701) — Hagge 74-74–148, Nolan Ross 90-80–170, Jarod Kadel 90-92–182, Noah Freeman 99-102–201, Jacob Kongable 114-105–219, Brady Loyd 115-110–225.

WESTWOOD (705) — Lamoureaux 80-79–159, Samuel Miller 84-88–172, Eddie Dandurand 94-92–186, Jacob Miller 92-98–190, Carter Copple 92-98–190, Jaxon Lutt 113-104–217.

NEW LONDON (705) — Phillips 92-79–161, Alex Dentlinger 89-88–177, Javis Krieger 90-93–183, Justin Carter 95-89–184, Gavin Prottsman 98-97–195, Gabe Carter 103-94–197.

BISHOP GARRIGAN (708) — Arndorfer 76-75–151, Parker Schiltz 89-88–177, Tommy Kollasch 95-93–188, Grayson Rowlet 92-102–194, Adyn Rowlet 99-100–199, Kyle Schaaf 111-106–217.

IKM-MANNING (721) — Rasmussen 85-76–161, Austin Ahrenholtz 94-87–181, Tyler Brandt 98-87–185, Jarod Henkelman 98-96–194, Tyler Henkelman 108-97–205, Conner Richards 122-121–243.

FORT DODGE ST. EDMOND (744) — Andrew Gibb 84-88–172, Tommy Lennon 90-90–180, Drew Schaeffer 92-92–184, Korbin Brown 106-103–209, Peyton Scott 105-109–214, Jacob Galles 121-122–243.

INDIVIDUALS — Hesner, East Buchanan, 73-74–147; Eckenrod, Mason City Newman, 78-79–157; Streicher, Edgewood-Colesburg, 83-78–161; Tyler Kopp, CAM, 82-82–164; Kaden Lyman, Rockford, 85-85–170; Gabe Ritter, Iowa Valley, 90-82–172; Spencer Schorg, Remsen-St. Mary’s, 89-84–173; Alex Hames, AGWSR, 92-83–175; Keaton Van Roekel, Boyden-Hull, 90-86–176; Avery Kwirant, Southwest Valley, 97-88–185.