ANAMOSA - Just take a look at the sign at the bottom of the hill leading up to the high school.
Anamosa boys’ golf, 1999 class 2A state champions is at the top of a very impressive list of the school’s all-time historic accomplishments.
Mike Neville, Sean Smith, Bret McNamara, Brian Neville, Scott Nemmers and Dan Miller will forever have their names etched in Raider stone for the incredible campaign they were able to put together that spring under head coach Tim Hollett, and closed out what was one of the greatest seasons in Iowa High School golf history with a thrilling title at the University of Iowa’s Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City May 29.
The tournament wasn’t without its drama too, as it took an incredible second-day spurt for Anamosa to get the job done, as the team was in third place sitting 11 strokes behind leader Colfax-Mingo after the first 18-hole of play May 28.
“What a year,” said an emphatic Hollett, who was named class 2A Coach of the Year after the tournament.
“This has to go down as one of the best teams in school history in any sport. A state championship! That was our main goal all season. We talked about going to state and knew we had the talent to win a title.”
It’s not often that state championship dreams come true, but for this team, it was destiny. Amazingly the Raiders suffered a mere one defeat on the campaign against a phenomenal 60 wins.
“I think Jim Wunder said it best,” Hollett said. “Thirty-two years ago we almost did it, but today we did it.”
Wunder was a member of the legendary 1967 Anamosa boys’ golf team that finished second in the state trailing champion Audubon by a mere seven strokes for the title.
“I also talked to Ed Gross, coach of the 1993 Anamosa boys’ state runner-up team,” Hollett said. “Both of these men were a part of school history and are very proud of our Raiders today.”
The championship was the first of any kind for Anamosa since coach Ken Fearing’s boys’ track teams claimed titles in 1974 and 1975.
It took some outstanding golf from up-and-down the Raider roster to pull out the title by a mere stroke over an Algona-Garrigan team who made an amazing second-day push as well.
The Raiders opened with a day-one total of 329 on Friday and sat behind leader Colfax-Mingo (318) and second-place Sioux Center (319) heading into the final round.
Algona-Garrigan sat in a tie for eighth-place with an opening round 337 and appeared out of the title chase until the team turned in a sizzling round of 307 on Saturday to close with a total of 644.
Anamosa needed to finish strong, and the team did exactly that coming through with an incredible 314 effort playing under excruciatingly pressure-filled conditions over their last 18 holes, and won the 2A title by a single stroke after turning in a card of 643.
Colfax-Mongo, the day-one leader, wound up fifth finishing with a 653 total while Sioux Center, who was sitting second after the first day, placed third overall (647).
Senior Mike Neville, who caught fire in the post-season in ‘99, kept it going into the state tournament leading all Anamosa golfers with a two-day total of 157 (80-77) at Finkbine while Smith, a junior, was his steady self, adding a 158 (81-77). McNamara, a senior, came through with a 162 (82-80) while sophomore Brian Neville was the final counter with a 166 (86-80).
Nemmers (89-80) and Miller (92-90), both seniors, added depth to the roster coming through with cards of 169 and 182, respectively.
It was that depth that made the 1999 Anamosa boys so special, as on any occasion the No. 6 golfer could go out and post a No. 1 score, and because of that amazing ability it took pressure off of everyone to feel the need to have to go out and fire a low score.
That talent balance was on display all spring long as well, as the team quickly claimed tournament championships at Tipton and West Delaware before the Raiders got a Finkbine preview April 20, crushing host Iowa City Regina 163-185 in a nine-hole dual meet.
The low scores continued as Smith set a school-record with a two-under par round of 31 in what would be Anamosa’s lone loss of the season hosting West Delaware April 26, at the Wapsi Country Club.
They would never feel the sting of defeat again.
Anamosa cruised to the Big Bend Conference title May 10, at Western Dubuque, with Mike Neville claiming medalist honors with a 75 before the post-season opened May 14, with the Raiders dominating sectionals in Monticello firing a 307 score that saw five Anamosa golfers card scores on the 70s.
At a rain-soaked district tournament in Kalona May 21, there was no stopping the Raider juggernaut, as Anamosa once again cruised winning the event by 12 shots over the runner-up hosts (Mid-Prairie) as Mike Neville (77) was medalist and Smith (78) were the class of the tournament.
“What can I say about Mike Neville?” Hollett said. “He had been so close to medaling all season long, but when the big tournaments started, he just took his game to another level.”
Neville became the first Raider golfer to win conference, sectionals and districts in the same season since Casey Mershon did it in 1988.
The 1999 Anamosa boys pretty much accomplished it all, and to complete the story three (Smith, McNamara and Nemmers) of the six continue to represent the community as members of the Wapsi Country Club men’s team who have dominated Eastern Iowa tournaments over much of the past 21 years since graduation.
Seasons like ’99 and life-long friendships, it just doesn’t get any better than that.