Iowa high school golf: Sibley-Ocheyedan has new coach, same high goals
SIBLEY, Iowa — With the kind of history Sibley-Ocheyedan has found in golf over time, a state championship for the Generals’ boys team last spring came as little surprise.
After carding a meet-low 673-stroke round at the Class 1A Golf Tournament last spring, anchored by juniors Ty Hanna (158) and Grant Juber (168), the Generals began practice once again Monday in search of more success this year.
Until last year, Sibley last won a state boys golf championship in 1978. They also won in 1977.
Sibley-Ocheyedan prepares for this season under first-year head golf coach Matt Vermeer, but former head coach Rick Braby isn’t far away from the action, either.
Even in his retirement from officially coaching the sport, Braby spends time with golfers on the course throughout the offseason. It helps, too, that the entire team gets along with each other so well, Hanna said.
“During the summer we all play together, especially with our old coach,” Hanna said as he now prepares for his senior season. “We’ll play nine holes or maybe play the whole day. It’s what makes our team so special. We enjoy hanging out with each other even if it’s not on the golf course.”
Throughout last season, the Generals had their ups and downs but peaked at the right time. Sibley-Ocheyedan carded a nine-hole score of 310 at last year’s sectional meet and Juber was medalist with a 74. Joe Storbakken, a senior from last year, was third place with a 77.At last spring’s 1A district meet in Hinton, Sibley-Ocheyedan was seven strokes under second-place West Lyon, Inwood. Both teams then reached the state meet.
“It was a slow start for a lot of us but we came around when it counted,” Hanna said. “We got better throughout the season and were hitting the ball better and not making as many mistakes.”
Juber and Hanna have been friends for a long time and Juber credits Hanna for pushing him in his love for the game of golf.
“He’s a good friend and I actually learned to play golf with him,” Juber said. “We’ve been best friends since we were little kids. I’d go out to his house, start hitting balls and I loved it. Coach Braby kept working with us and it was non-stop from there. We just had a love and passion for the game.”
Some of the biggest competition the Generals will face this spring come from their own Siouxland Conference. West Lyon returns two of its top performers last year and MOC-Floyd Valley also remains tough, but competes in Class 3A. Sibley-Ocheyedan is a Class 2A team this season.
“I think the key to our success will be doing what we do best and sticking to those things,” Hanna said. “We can’t try to do too much. Hopefully things will fall into place. (Returning to state) would be a dream come true.”
Vermeer comes from the Sioux Center area and has taught in Sibley for a few years, so he’s well aware of how much hay the Generals have made over time with their golf program.
“Coach Braby has done an awesome job of building up the program, so for me to be able to walk into the tradition he’s established, we have the talent and potential to be good again,” Vermeer said.
“We’ve had success with other sports but golf has always been successful here. The credit for that can go to Coach Braby for all of the time he’s put in,” Vermeer added. “(To have a team win a championship) was a fun thing to have happen.”
Sibley-Ocheyedan opens its golf season with a meet in Sheldon April 14.