After the first round at the 1A Iowa State Golf Tournament, Newell-Fonda senior Spencer Baak was mired in mid-pack with an unremarkable 85 on the Spring Valley course.
That's when Baak, the Mustangs #1 slot player all year, showed what he's made of.
"I just stood there and said to myself, 'You are not going to waste your senior year State Tournament. Pull yourself together,'" he said afterward.
Baak ripped through his second round of 18 in a brilliant 75 stokes Saturday - lower than anyone else in the field - to vault into third place overall with a 160, only three strokes behind state champion Jon Tink of Walnut Ridge Baptist (Waterloo.) Baak had knocked a full dozen strokes off from his round score at the District meet.
"It was on the fifth hole when I had a really hard-breaking putt and I was able to hole it for an eagle that I thought I might have a pretty good round," he said.
That proved to be an understatement. Baak's rebound, plus the tradmark consistency his teammates have shown all year, helped the Mustangs to a second-place-tie State finish - a single stroke behind the champions from Northern University High in Cedar Falls and knotted with Newman Catholic (Mason City) for runner-up honors at 684. In the process, NF topped Hinton, the team that had humbled them for the District title, by 27 strokes.
It didn't look like such a memorable experience earlier on. Friday dawned cold and windy - miserable weather for a finesse player. "My first 13 holes were so bad - I was 13 over par," Baak said. "My teammates were playing pretty well, and we went out Saturday knowing we had a chance. We came up one shot short of our goal, but it was a great experience and we really feel like we couldn't have asked for anything more."
By the time he reached the last two holes, he knew his team was in second, but he purposely didn't want to know how anybody else was doing. "I was nervous at the last couple holes. I thought I had hit a ball out of bounds right at the end, but I got real lucky and it had just stayed in."
Of the 64 golfers at State, NG senior James Tidemann was part of a five-way tie for 11th best with an 85, 86 -171. Sophomore Alex Vandehoff was 26th with an 88, 88 - 176; Connor Juilfs was one stroke behing in 27th in 84, 93 - 177 senior Robert Devereaux carded a 93, 97 - 190 good for a tie for 46th; and senior Evan Franzmeier was in a tie for 55th with a 98, 93 - 191.
As for Baak, he is now faced with a choice. He has decided to go on to college at Morningside, but must choose between golf and football - two sports he loves, but ones that would be too much of a burden on academics if he tried to do both.
"I'm talking to the coaches," he said. "I'm leaning toward football, but I haven't made up my mind."
For the senior leaders of the NF team, this was their third State Tourney in as many years.
"We came in knowing we had a good team, but you look around at State and see a whole lot of really good teams," Baak said. "This is one we'll always remember."
The only other area player to make State in any class was Aurelia senior Greg Kolpin, who had qualified as an individual after tying for fourth at 1A Districts. At State he went out in 97 and came back in 94 to land in a three-way tie for 49th.
Among other area highlights, Spencer's 9th grade phenom Jay Monahan shot a 157 to place 8th in the 3A State Tournament as Spencer finished 5th in team competition. In 2A, the area's top finisher was Cherokee sophomore Brock Benson with a 165 to help the Braves to 6th.
State 1A Golf Results
Team 1st Round 2nd Round Total
1. N. U. High, CF 347 336 683
2. Newell-Fonda 344 340 684
Newman, MC 347 337 684
4. East Buchanan 334 354 688
5. AHST, Avoca 354 357 711
Coon Rapids-B. 357 354 711
Hinton 353 358 711