GRUNDY CENTER - The only consistent theme for the golf season this spring has been the unpredictable weather.
So it was only fitting that an unexpected team captured the NICL West Division boys conference crown Monday.
Rallying behind a 2-3 finish from Zach Underhill and Drake McKeever, the East Marshall boys golf team topped the field with a tally of 344 to edge host Grundy Center by five at Town & Country Golf Club.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
South Tama County’s Kolton Smith drains a putt on hole No. 6 at the NICL West Division Championship at Town & Country Golf Club in Grundy Center Monday. Smith shot a 78 to claim medalist honors after finishing runner-up a year ago.
South Tama County's Kolton Smith fired a six-over 78 to edge Underhill by a stroke, while McKeever and Grundy Center's Elliot Eggelston each shot an 83. Final playoff results were not available.
"We didn't expect this," East Marshall coach Rob Drake said. "Our goal coming into the meet was to try and get into the top three."
Matching their unlikely run to the title, the Mustangs received a much-needed boost from their fourth and fifth golfers - who rose up to third and fourth for the team.
NICL West Division Championship
At Grundy Center
Town & Country Golf Club, par 36
Team Standings - 1. East Marshall 344, 2. Grundy Center 349, 3. South Hardin 359, 4. South Tama County 364, 5. Gladbrook-Reinbeck 366, 6. West Marshall 371, 7. AGWSR 381, 8. BCLUW 400.
All-Conference (top 9) - 1. Kolton Smith, STC, 78; 2. Zach Underhill, EM, 79; 3. (tie) Drake McKeever, EM, 83; Elliot Eggleston (83); 5. Eric Mulder, SH, 86; 6. Owen Abkes, AGWSR, 87; 7. Lane Bangasser, GC, 88; 8. (tie) Jacob Smoldt, G-R, 89; Ryon Appel, GC, 89; Sam Thompson, GC, 89; Jack Dunn, SH, 89.
EAST MARSHALL (344) - Zach Underhill 79, Drake McKeever 83, Max Upah 90, Nate Rosfjord 92, Zack Johnson 98, Austin Weese 103.
GRUNDY CENTER (349) - Elliot Eggleston 83, Lane Bangasser 88, Ryon Appel 89, Sam Thompson 89, Nick Saak 90, Nathan Graham 93.
SOUTH HARDIN (359) - Eric Mulder 86, Jack Dunn 89, Spencer Welch 91, Sam Priske 93, Ryan Mossman 94, Tyson Smith 96.
SOUTH TAMA (364) - Kolton Smith 78, Colson Frakes 94, Trent Banes 95, Ian Slagle 97, Alec Hill 99, Taylen Anderson 104.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (366) - Jacob Smoldt 89, Bradon Trepp 90, Austin Harris 92, Cameron Murphy 95, Logan Koester 101, Bryce Ehlers 109.
WEST MARSHALL (371) - Nick Lanning 90, Garrett Goodwin 91, Nate Byerly 94, Dylan Petermeier 96, Cole Gilmore 101, Eric Newton 105.
AGWSR (381) - Owen Abkes 87, Hunter Wagner 95, Kody Boheman 96, Derek Schipper 103, Carson Lutterman 107, Lucas Beving 109.
BCLUW (400) - Tyler Smith 97, Collin McAteer 99, Grant Frazer 100, Josh Sharp 104, Lucas Schmitt 123, John Delay 146.
"Even though (Zach) Johnson didn't shoot his best today as our No. 2 golfer, our No. 4 and 5 came through," Drake said.
Max Upah's 90 and Nate Rosfjord's 92 helped the Mustangs place their scoring quartet among the top-20. The depth proved critical for a spring that's limited the opportunities for teams to practice and compete.
"It's tough for everybody, because you can't get into a rhythm," Drake said. "You have rain days so you can't practice. I bet we've lost four or five meets this year.
South Hardin (359) edged South Tama by five strokes and Gladbrook-Reinbeck by seven for third. West Marshall (371), AGWSR (381) and BCLUW (400) rounded out the field.
Smith's mantra for the day helped him overcome a rough start to claim medalist honors.
"Just keep playing - don't give up," said Smith, who finished runner-up at the conference championship a year ago.
The positive approach came in handy for Smith who opened the day with a seven and wasn't happy with his first-9 score of 40.
"I could have done a lot better today," Smith said. "My front nine wasn't that good."
Still, it was just enough to separate him a competitive field as just four strokes separated 11 golfers in the mix for all-conference honors.
South Hardin's Eric Mulder took fifth (86), while AGWSR's Owen Abkes (87) and Grundy Center's Lane Bangasser claimed the next two spots. Four golfers finished tied for eighth at 89, while another foursome was locked at 90. Final playoff results were not available.
AGWSR, BCLUW, Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Grundy Center return to Town & Country Golf Club Friday for a sectional meet at 10 a.m. East Marshall, South Hardin, and West Marshall head to Waterloo that morning for sectional play at Gates Park Golf Course. Tee time is set for 9 a.m.