Freshman Countryman Helps West Branch to Second RVC Title in Three Years


Photo by Jeff Yoder / RVC meet photo gallery

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

RIVERSIDE – During the past two River Valley Conference golf meets Randy Sexton has grown accustomed to sweating out every scorecard that arrives at the clubhouse.

With the previous two RVC meets decided by a total of three strokes the long-time West Branch coach has had plenty of anxious moments studying the leaderboard.

The Bears made the RVC meet as close to as stress free as possible for Sexton on Tuesday.

West Branch built a 13-stroke lead over the first nine holes and finished with a 324 to claim its second RVC title in three seasons at Blue Top Ridge Golf Course in Riverside.

“On the front we went 159 so we knew that we were in pretty good shape,” Sexton said. “Two years ago was two strokes and last year was one stroke so to have it not come down to that type of a finish was more relaxing for sure.”

West Branch won the 2017 RVC title by two strokes over Wilton. 

Last season the Beavers returned the favor edging West Branch for the top spot by a single stroke at Muscatine Municipal Golf Course.

There was no drama on Tuesday as West Branch put four golfers in the top nine and finished 18 strokes clear of runner-up Mid-Prairie.

“It feels really good, especially senior year to kind of get redemption for this team,” West Branch senior Ted Bridges said. “To bring a conference championship back to West Branch feels good.”

Freshman Dylan Countryman rallied to win the individual title, shooting a one-under-par 35 on the back nine to finish with a 75.

Countryman was two strokes better than Regina junior Mark Schomer and Mid-Prairie junior Noah Schlabaugh who each shot a 77.

“I was hitting a lot of greens which is step one and I was making putts finally,” Countryman said. “It was good to see some putts drop after a while.”
Countryman headlined a balanced West Branch outing on Tuesday as fellow freshman Brady Knoop placed fifth with an 81 and Bridges and Kaleb Sexton finished eighth and ninth respectively with 84s.

“We are very deep and that’s our strength is we know somebody can stub their toe, we’ve told our guys they don’t have to be perfect they can play golf and just relax,” Randy Sexton said. “We know that any of our six can score for us.”

Countryman used a late flourish that featured an eagle and his lone birdy of the day on back-to-back holes to win an RVC title in his first conference meet.

The freshman was four over par after 10 holes but closed by shooting one under on his final eight.

“I was very happy with the way I played,” Countryman said. “I don’t have a lot of regrets about that round.”

Countryman started his charge with back-to-back pars on the par-four 10th and par-three 11th before getting his breakthrough on number 12.

A long drive left Countryman 180-yards to the pin and he hit a 7 iron to within 15 feet and knocked in the putt for the only eagle of the round for any player.  

“Never had an eagle in competition,” Countryman said. “It was a good time for my first one.”

Countryman followed with a birdy on the 390-yard, par-four 13th to get to one over on the round before closing with back-to-back bogeys.

“I was hitting good iron shots and hit some good drives,” Countryman said. “I was doing everything pretty solid overall.”

The 35 for Countryman on the back nine was tops for any player on Tuesday, two strokes better than the 37 Schlabaugh carded on the back.

Helping West Branch secure its team title was the real prize for the freshman.

“It feels amazing as a freshman to win the first year,” Countryman said. “But to win the team title feels even better.”

RVC Meet

At Blue Top Ridge Golf Course

Team scores – 1. West Branch 324; 2. Mid-Prairie 342; 3. Tipton 347; 4. North Cedar 348; 5. Monticello 349; 6. Regina 359; 7. Wilton 360; 8. Durant 360; 9. Anamosa 368; 10. Northeast 379; 11. Cascade 385; 12. Camanche 412; 13. Bellevue 424

Individual leaders – 1. Dylan Countryman (WB) 40-35 – 75; 2. Mark Schomer (ICR) 38-39 –77; 3. Noah Schlabaugh (M-P) 40-37 – 77; 4. Aman Egge (ANA) 38-43 – 81; 5. Brady Knoop (WB) 38-43 – 81; 6. Justin Recker (MON) 42-40 – 82; 7. Brock Hartley (WIL) 39-44 – 83; 8. Ted Bridges (WB) 40-44 – 84; 9. Kaleb Sexton (WB) 41-43 – 84; 10. Monte Slabaugh (M-P) 40-44 – 84; 11. Connor Lambert (MON) 44-41 – 85; 12. Lucas Callison (DUR) 42-43 – 85; 13. Logan Callison (DUR) 42-43 – 85; 14. Luke Becker (TIP) 47-38 – 85

West Branch (324) – Dylan Countryman 40-35 – 75; Brady Knoop 38-43 – 81; Ted Bridges 40-44 – 84; Kaleb Sexton 41-43 – 84; Brady Lukavsky 45-50 – 95; Gage Gingerich 47-50 – 97

Regina (359) – Mark Schomer 38-39 – 77; Andrew Miller 40-50 – 90; Nic Hein 51-42 – 93; Casey Daniel 46-53 – 99; Andrew Triplett 48-54 – 102; James Clark 52-52 – 104  

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