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Iowa golf: Ty Hanna, Sibley-Ocheyedan rise to the top

SIBLEY, Iowa -- Ty Hanna, a junior from Sibley-Ocheyedan High School, struggled with his golf game during much of the 2013 spring season. His short game was out of whack, and according to his coach, it didn't begin to improve significantly until late.

Then, as the sectional and district competitions were under way, Hanna's game got better.

"He started to see things coming around in sectionals," said Sibley-Ocheyedan coach Rick Braby.

Braby worked with Hanna on shortening his swing and accelerating through the ball. With the confidence that comes from winning medalist honors at the district meet in Spencer, Hanna was ready to participate in the first state tournament of his high school career.

The rest of the story, as they say, is history. Hanna posted a score of 83 on the first day of the tournament Friday at Lake Panorama National Resort in Panora, which tied him for the lead with Tristan Kadel of New London. On Saturday, Hanna did even better, carding a three-over-par 75 for a total of 158 strokes --a full six strokes better than the runnerup, senior Jacob Smoldt of Gladbrook-Reinbeck, who shot a 164.

Sibley-Ocheyedan also won the team competition with a 344-329 --673, easily surpassing second place New London's score of 706 and third place Inwood West Lyon's 723. It was the third state boys team championship for Sibley (the Generals also won in 1977 and 1978) and the first as a consolidated school.

Braby says Hanna "didn't give a thought" to winning an individual championship when he waded into state tournament competition under moist conditions. But he believed his team had a chance for a title.

He got more than he bargained for.

And how did he handle the individual glory?

"He just kind of sat there and smiled. He really didn't say a lot," Braby said.

Which is probably par for the course. Braby describes Hanna as an "even-keeled" kid. Coachable. A good student. Not too excitable.

But Braby wasn't surprised at Hanna's title. Once his student got his short game together -- once he realized that he didn't need to make the "big, loopy swing" --he had the confidence that he needed. The best part of Hanna's game, said Braby, is his short game when he's playing well. His wedge, his putter, are precision instruments in Hanna's hands. And he reads greens well, too.

Hanna, an all-conference player since his freshman year, had his short game under control during pre-tournament practice at the Beaver Creek course at Grimes, north of Des Moines. By then, he proved himself ready for the real thing.

On the first day of the tournament, he had to face winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour en route to his 83. On the second day, at 5 a.m. in the morning a hard rain fell and delayed the start of the tournament. Instead of working on his chipping and putting, Hanna hit range balls. By the time real competition began on Day 2, he was in charge.

"He was just really swinging within himself. He was using good course management," Braby recalled. "He was just playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of class."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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