Sarah Nacos attempts to lead Washington to another state golf title

Two-time state champion can join short list of three-time medalists

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WASHINGTON — Sarah Nacos is an accomplished competitor.

She has plenty of personal achievements to discuss. The junior from Washington, Iowa, also has the potential to join some elite company in the future.

Even though golf is mostly considered an individual sport, Nacos has a different opinion, which was supported when she referenced her teammates for almost each topic.

“It’s all about the team,” Nacos said. “It is great when you are able to bring something back to your town.

“The whole town follows us for golf. Everyone wants to know about the team. ... It’s not one person. It’s about the team.”

The Demons have delivered with back-to-back Class 4A state team championships and four since 2007. Nacos has been a major contributor, winning state individual titles in her first two varsity seasons and setting up a chance to become just the eighth golfer in history to win at least three Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union state crowns.

Nacos has embraced a leadership role and part is an unselfish, team-first attitude.

“She’s wise well beyond her years,” Washington Coach Leonard “L.L.” Kull said. “She’s had a lot of success in the past. Most of it individual. She knows it’s less stressful when others are with her. She has found her teammates can carry the load.”

Kull said the Demons look to her example. He said teammates try to emulate her actions on and off the course. She is aware of the influence she has on others.

“She’s a fine young lady,” Kull said. “She’s an accomplished golfer, but she’s an even better person. She’s a joy to be around.”

Nacos has set the foundation of a stellar career and still is capable of matching Dubuque’s Sharon Fladoos (1958-61) and Charles City’s Jessie Sindlinger (2010-13) as four-time state medalists.

“It was a great achievement to look back on but I have to look to the future,” Nacos said. “I have to keep working.

“Right now, it’s just about improving. There’s always room to improve.”

She was head and shoulders above the 4A field last year. Her 75.86 18-hole average was more than five strokes better than the next best golfer in the class. The 37.43 average in nine-hole rounds was more than three strokes better than anyone else in 4A.

Complacency did not set in during the offseason. She outgrew her old irons and adjusted to a new set, allowing her to attack the pin more on approach shots and go for birdies.

“I’ve been working on those,” said Nacos, noting she was solid with higher irons but inconsistent with lower ones. “I should be more accurate. I can be more aggressive.”

Nacos challenged herself in the offseason, playing against some of the state’s best and some older players during summer tournaments. She considered it a learning experience, seeing how much she could improve distance with her driver and develop the mental aspect of the game.

“I used it for motivation and I want to be as good as them when I’m their age,” Nacos said. “It impressed me with how they carried themselves. That’s how I want to be.”

Washington graduated two of its top four scorers. The Demons don’t have the same amount of depth of the last two seasons and will need some inexperienced players to round out the lineup. Kull tested Nacos, asking what will change in her approach with less depth.

“Nothing,” Kull said of her response. “She said I’m not going to feel like I have to do more than I can do. We will do the best we can.”

Washington topped 4A with a 354.14 team average and led the class with combined nine and 18-hole adjusted average than was nearly 10 points better than the next program.

Golf preview: Individuals and teams to watch

The Demons have a good nucleus of players to go along with Nacos’ ability for a low round. Juniors Megan Strabala and Allison Vogel and sophomore Carly Burlingame played at the state meet a year ago. Strabala averaged about 97 strokes per 18 last year.

“They were integral parts of our team. No doubt about it,” Kull said about Strabala and Vogel. “Carly Burlingame came a long way. She has a lot of confidence.”

The Demons’ focus is to get better daily, which will lead to big things later in the season. The work ethic with a strong camaraderie adds to their potential.

“We’re a very close-knit team,” Nacos said. “Our success is due to being so close. I’m excited for what we can accomplish.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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