Iowa prep golf: Hanna, Sibley-Ocheyedan boys still on target
SIBLEY, Iowa — There’s no doubt the Sibley-Ocheyedan boys golf team entered the 2014 season with a target on its collective back.
The Generals came into the season off the heels of a Class 1A Iowa State Golf Championship in 2013. It was the first the school had won since consolidating and the third for Sibley, with the others coming back-to-back in 1977 and 1978.
The leader of the pack, senior Ty Hanna, also came into 2014 as a marked man after he posted a two-day score of 158 at Lake Panorama National Resort to take the state’s individual championship. His winning score bested that of runner-up Jacob Smolt of Gladbrook-Reinbreck by six strokes and ended a season that saw him catch fire down the stretch.
So far, both team and individual have handled the pressure of being “the one to beat” in stride. The Generals have won two of their first four meets on the season — including a win on their home course, Sibley Golf and Country Club, at the Bob Jassey Invitational on Saturday — while taking runner-up honors in the other two. Hanna, too, has taken medalist honors at two of the four meets with a runner-up and third-place finish thrown into the mix.
A scary thought for Siouxland and Class 1A opponents; first-year head coach Matt Vermeer said his team is yet to put everything together.
“Many players have had good rounds here and there, but we have yet to collectively play to our potential as a team to put five solid rounds together for a team score that really reflects our playing ability,” he said.
Part of that, he said, is just a matter of getting a little cooperation from Mother Nature.
“The weather hasn’t been so conducive for good scoring to-date, so we are anxious to see what our scoring looks like as the weather warms up and the courses continue to get better into the season.”
For the team’s leader, things began to really click as the season hit the backstretch in 2013. Now retired S-O head coach Rick Braby worked with Hanna on shortening his swing and accelerating through the ball throughout the season. All of that coaching and hard work paid off when he won the district tournament in Spencer to advance to his first state tournament.
The improvement continued when he shot an 83 on Day 1 at the state tournament and, with just a three-over-par on Day 2, he finished the weekend as state champion. So far this season, there have been no signs of slowing down.
Prior to Saturday’s home meet, Hanna had taken individual medalist honors at a conference meet hosted by West Lyon, second place at a conference meet in Sheldon and third at yet another Siouxland meet hosted by Maurice-Orange City/Floyd-Valley.
Back on his home course Saturday, Hanna shot a 38 on the front nine and came back in with a 43 to take medalist honors with an 81; three shots better than runner-up Tyler Carlson of LeMars.
“Ty has been playing well this season,” Vermeer said. “He has been our anchor for some time now and he has continued that this season by bringing in solid rounds to help hold the team score together.”
For Hanna, his success is due not only to the physical attributes that came together near the end of his junior campaign. Equally important is the even-keeled manner by which he carries himself on the course.
“I am pleased with his poise out on the course,” Vermeer said. “He doesn’t get rattled by much and he likes to compete. His experience from playing high school golf through his high school career is really showing in how he handles himself on the course.”
Once again, Hanna was the driving force behind the Generals’ team title at its seven-team tournament Saturday. His 81 gave him medalist honors, but he wasn’t alone amongst the individual leaders.
Teammate Ethan Mino wasn’t far behind him as he turned in a solid round of 85, putting him in third overall. Grant Juber struggled a bit on the back nine, but his 41 on the way out was enough to card an 89 to take sixth individually. Evan Mehls shot a 45 on both ends to take a 90 that rounded out the Generals’ winning score of 345.
That bested second-place LeMars by eight strokes.
“With the weather as it was today, I was rather pleased with how my guys played and stayed focused on each shot,” Vermeer said. “The numbers were not as low as usual, but the numbers were respectable considering they needed to not only play the wind on their tee and approach shots, but also on their putts.”
Taking third as a team was Western Christian, which was led by fourth-place individual finisher Colyn Ostenink’s 86. Sheldon took fourth with a 405 with the S-O and Western Christian JV teams finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, with team scores of 436 and 440. George-Little Rock placed seventh with a 495.
Sheldon was led by Devon Johnson’s 96. Unfortunately for the Orabs, he was the only player amongst them able to crack the 100-stroke barrier. Dominic Seivert, Nick Bomgaars and Parker Nisson rounded out the team total as each carded a 103.
George-Little Rock’s top performer was Austin Hayenga, who put up a 105. Aaron Korthals wasn’t too far behind him with a 110 with Jesse Kramer (114) and Nick Hengeveld (166) capping things off.
With the season finally getting into full swing — weather permitting — the Generals will be back on the links at 4:30 p.m. today at George-Little Rock. According to Vermeer, the best is yet to come; and Hanna will have a lot to do with that.
“His game is starting to come into form and I foresee him having a great end to this golf season,” he said.