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Reigning champs make it four straight

Ross leads Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck girls to league title

May 15, 2016

GRUNDY CENTER - And one more makes it four.

For the fourth-straight year, the Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck girls' golf team walked away from the North Iowa Cedar League West Division meet at the Grundy Center Town & Country Golf Club, with smiles and medals, shooting a 386 for the top score.

It was the third time being a part of the NICL team title for senior Kate Ross, sporting a meet-best 93 on her way to her first individual conference title. Junior Sarah Hockemeyer also tallied her third team title, shooting a 99 for fifth place.

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Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Kate Ross hits the ball down the fairway on Hole 2 at the Grundy Center Town & Country Golf Club on Monday. Ross shot a 93 and won the individual title, helping the Spartans to the team title at the North Iowa Cedar League West Division meet.

"It's awesome it being my last year and we're conference champs again," Ross said. "It's cool being four-time conference champions. And then being medalist, it's awesome."

Abby Hockemeyer and teammate Jill Itzen garnered their second NICL team titles shooting 97 and 100 for second and sixth, respectively. For second-place junior Reagan Derrick - who shot her best round of golf this season, a 97 - it was her first taste at the top conference honors.

But while many golfers struggled with the 10-plus mile per hour winds, on and off rain and biting cold temperatures for an early-May golf meet, both Ross and Derrick sailed through at their respective stretches to get the job done.

"In my first half, I just cruised through it, and everything was going good," Derrick said. "Everything seemed to be going smoothly. The weather really didn't get to me."

Derrick had the lowest score through the first nine holes, a 46, besting Abby's 48 and West Marshall's Madi Stalzer and Ross' 49.

But it's been a trying process for Derrick, getting to where she finished Thursday afternoon. An off swing forced her to stumble through the regular season, with ups and downs, up until last Friday.

"This whole year, I've been struggling," Derrick said. "I was on and off [junior varsity] and finally just got my swing down. I have a case of the righties, really bad. And what's helped me so much has been keeping my feet open to my target, and it gets me to swing all the way through."

Co-head coach Jocilyn Onnen was happily shocked at Derrick's performance throughout the entire conference meet.

"Literally, I have no idea where that even came from," Onnen said with a smile. "Now, she's believing in herself."

Other co-head coach Kassi Nelson said Derrick's approach to the NICL meet was maybe the biggest driving factor in the junior's late-season success.

"Her swing, her attitude, everything was awesome," Nelson said. "Everything paid off, so it was really good to see that. We knew she could do it."

A back-nine comeback was in store, however, for Ross as she posted the lowest nine-hole score of the afternoon, a 44, on her way to the individual medal.

"I just got my head back in the game," Ross said. "I got rid of the bad holes I had and pushed through to the good ones. My short game really helped. The weather didn't get to me and I was able to pull through."

The biggest testament to the Spartans' fourth consecutive conference title was their resolve through some highly unfavorable golf conditions. It was because of simple, regular-season practice that the Spartans came away with the victory Monday.

"We've played through crappy weather all year," Ross said. "So we're just used to it by now."

While others took time off, Derrick said the Spartans kept on keeping on.

"We've played and practiced through it. So when a lot of teams take breaks or have inside practices through this kind of weather, we always tough it out," Derrick said. "And that's what helps us a lot."

Nelson added there might have been an even bigger factor at hand while trying to defend the conference throne.

"For the most part, it [took] the girls' dedication to the game of golf," Nelson said. "Them being able to focus and even through nasty weather, that's really good. Being used to that weather, and knowing [a] shot is going to be different.

Another year and another conference title later, the Spartans will be searching for their fourth-straight state title - and 15th in school history - as well. First, they'll have to get through their district meet, but Derrick said she's enjoying the ride as it comes.

"It's cool to be part of a team that's been so successful throughout the years," Derrick said. "And even though we have new coaches, it's still cool to be carrying on that legacy."

In a tie for second place, BCLUW and West Marshall shot 419, but the Comets came away with the outright position after going through cardbacks. BCLUW was led by Lauren Anderson, who shot a 101 and placed eighth overall, and the Trojans had Madi Stalzer shoot a 100 to lead their team. Stalzer placed seventh overall.

East Marshall donned the fourth-place slot with a 442. The Mustangs were led by Tylyn Eicher, who shot a 106.

South Hardin placed fifth with a 449. The Tigers had Hanna Vander Wilt take fourth overall with a 98. Teammate Kristin Mathis shot a 101 for ninth place.

The AGWSR girls were sixth Monday with a 457, led by Sophie Stahl's 112.



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