Nobody is more associated with the Ankeny girls’ golf program than Toni Dickey.
Dickey played for the Hawkettes in high school and later became the head coach of the program for 31 years. She led Ankeny to three state titles and also coached four individual state champions before retiring after the 2017 season.
Those individual champs–Sarah Gilbert, Mary Beth Biga, Abbi Sunner and Beth Wagner–have all been named to Ankeny Fanatic’s all-time Ankeny girls’ golf team. Five more of Dickey’s players were selected to the second team.
“All of these girls will always have a special place in my heart,” said Dickey. “They were very dedicated to the team and their teammates. Each and every one of them were and still are leading very successful lives. We had many happy moments, team dinners, hot tubbing, Laffy Taffy on those suburban rides, and many more (memories). Of course we had tears, but those tears always made us stronger. It was an honor to be their coach and go through all the ups and downs together.”
Dickey also coached Karli Kerrigan as a freshman in 2013 before Kerrigan moved across town when Ankeny Centennial opened its doors later that year. Both Kerrigan and Tenley Moretti won individual state titles for the Jaguars and have also been named to the all-time team.
“Their golf swings speak for themselves, but what set them apart was both were so mentally tough, especially the years that they both won individual titles,” said former Centennial coach Andy Fehn, who started the Jaguars’ program and coached both girls.
Ankeny’s rich golfing tradition started more than 40 years ago. The Hawkettes were the state runner-up in 1977 before winning their first state championship in 1986 under coach Terry Carlson.
One of Carlson’s top players, Penny Peters, has also been named to the all-time team.
“Penny was not a part of the championship team, but I would put her up against any player from any decade,” said Carlson, who now lives in California. “She was the most focused athlete that I ever coached in high school or college.”
Here, then, is the Ankeny Fanatic all-time Ankeny girls’ golf team, comprised of two six-player teams.
Mary Beth Biga. She was a 16-time medalist and a 13-time runner-up in her career, as well as a three-time state placewinner and a three-time CIML Central Conference champion. She placed eighth in the Class 3A state meet as a freshman in 2001, helping Ankeny to a third-place finish. She was the medalist at both the district and regional meets. Biga then helped the Hawkettes to another third-place finish as a sophomore, when she led the team with a 41.1 average. In 2003, she led the squad with a 38.6 average and placed second at the state meet with a two-day total of 154, finishing two shots behind Sarah Nicholson of Cedar Falls. However, Biga led Ankeny to a 31-stroke victory over the Tigers to claim its first state title under Dickey. As a senior, she led the Hawkettes to an undefeated season. Biga carded a 36-hole total of 149 to win the inaugural Class 4A meet by seven strokes. Ankeny, meanwhile, rolled to a 35-stroke victory over Cedar Rapids Washington for its second consecutive crown, posting the second-lowest score ever in meet history (636). She again led the team with a 38.8 average. Biga, who was also a three-year starter in basketball who twice earned all-state honors and helped Ankeny to three consecutive state titles in 2002-04, went on to play golf at Northern Iowa. In 2006, she was ranked No. 25 on the Ankeny Press Citizen’s list of the 50 greatest athletes in Ankeny High School history. She was earlier named to Ankeny Fanatic’s all-time Ankeny girls’ basketball team. Now, she’s the co-captain of our girls’ golf squad.
Sarah Gilbert. She became Ankeny’s first individual state champion in 1999, when she overcame a three-stroke deficit in the second round to finish two shots ahead of Becky Digmann of Western Dubuque. She fired a 75 over the final 18 holes to finish with a 155 total. Earlier, she won a playoff against Marshalltown’s Sarah Dahlman to defend her CIML National Conference crown after both players shot an 85. Gilbert was the medalist at 14 of the 15 meets that season. Her only setback came at the Southeast Polk Invitational, where she lost a playoff to Dahlman after both players carded a 38. She posted a 40.1 average. Gilbert also won a state coed title, teaming up with Mike LaBounty to capture the crown. In 1998, she led Ankeny with a 43.0 average as a junior, when she was a seven-time medalist and a two-time runner-up. She shot a 43 to win the National Conference meet, becoming the Hawkettes’ first league champion. She was also the medalist at the district and regional meets before placing 10th in the state meet with a 175 total. As a sophomore, Gilbert placed seventh at the conference meet with a 93. She was also a varsity regular during her freshman season, when she played alongside her sister, Michelle.
Karli Kerrigan. She was a four-time state placewinner while playing for both schools. As a freshman at Ankeny, she placed ninth with an 83 in the inaugural Class 5A meet, which was shortened to just one round due to bad weather. She led the team with a 40.2 average and was a three-time medalist. She then teamed up with Andrew Huseman to win the state coed championship. After moving to Centennial, she won a state title for the Jaguars in 2014, when she posted a two-day total of 151 to win by five strokes. “On day one the second hole, she hit her tee shot about an inch from out of bounds, she got a ruling, made bogey and never looked back,” Fehn said. “On day two on the back nine, it was clear that minus a huge number it was her (title). She was so calm we talked about Finding Nemo on the back nine. She was in total control of her game those two days.” Kerrigan was a six-time medalist and a six-time runner-up that season, when she posted a 39.1 average. As a junior, she set the women’s course record with a 65 to win the regional meet at Jester Park. She went on to place second at state with a 156 total, finishing two strokes behind Paige Seiser of Waukee. She helped Centennial to a runner-up finish in its first appearance as a team. A five-time medalist and a four-time runner-up, she led the Jaguars with 39.2 average. In her final season, Kerrigan tied for fourth at the state meet, helping Centennial to a third-place finish. She began her college career at South Dakota before transferring to Grand View, where her final season was cancelled due to COVID-19. “I’m finished up at Grand View,” Kerrigan said. “As hard as it is to not be coming back, I’m happy with my career overall.”
Tenley Moretti. Like Kerrigan, she was a four-time state placewinner and won an individual title in her sophomore season. She shot a two-day total of 146 to win the Class 5A title in 2016 by two strokes over Hannah Bermel of Cedar Falls, leading the Jaguars to a third-place finish. “Tenley was emerging as the player to beat at state and just played so well, especially the back nine on day two as it was basically match play between her and (Bermel),” Fehn said. “She had such a great game plan for how to play Lake Panorama and executed it so well. What I remember most about those two days about Tenley was how she walked, always had shoulders up, head never down, and was never in a rush.” Moretti took third as a junior with a 145 total, leading Centennial to a fourth-place finish. She shot a 68 to win the Central Conference title as a senior in 2018. She went on to place fourth in the Class 4A meet with a 165 total, leading the Jaguars to a sixth-place finish. As a freshman in 2015, Moretti placed second on the squad with a 41.2 average and placed 14th at the state meet, helping Centennial to a runner-up finish. She was a 22-time medalist and a 16-time runner-up in her career. Moretti went on to play for Iowa State before transferring to Southern Miss, where she was second on the team this spring with a 78.39 average through six meets before COVID-19 cancelled the rest of the season.
Abbi Sunner. She was a four-time state placewinner who helped Ankeny to back-to-back state titles in 2003-04. As a freshman, she was the conference runner-up with a 78 and then shot a 167 total to place 14th in Class 3A, helping the Hawkettes to their first crown in 17 years. She was a three-time medalist and a three-time runner-up as a sophomore, when she tied for fourth place at the state meet with a 158 total as Ankeny claimed the Class 4A championship. She posted the best score of the tournament–an even-par 71–in the final round. In 2005, Sunner had a hole-in-one during a dual meet against Johnston at Jester Park. She was the conference runner-up with a 71 and went on to place second in the state meet, where she shot a 150 total and carded an even-par 71 in the final round for the second straight year. A five-time medalist and a four-time runner-up, she led the team with a 38.1 average. As a senior, Sunner enjoyed one of the best individual seasons in school history, earning medalist honors at 12 of the 14 meets. She set a school record with a 67 at the Valley Invitational, then tied another mark with a 34 in a dual meet one day later. She carded a 75 to win her first conference title, then shot a 148 total to win the state title by three strokes while leading the Hawkettes to a runner-up finish. She led the team with a 37.2 average. Sunner went on to play at Kansas State, where she competed in 41 career events and led the Wildcats with a 77.0 average as a senior, finishing in the top-20 four times. She twice was named to the NGCA All-Scholar team and was also the runner-up at the 2007 Iowa Women’s Amateur Championship. Along with Biga, she is the only Ankeny golfer to win an individual title and also play on two championship teams. We’ll make her the co-captain of the squad along with her former teammate.
Beth Wagner. Her career was highlighted by a state team title in 2008 and an individual crown in 2011. As a freshman, she tied for fourth at the state meet with a 165 total while helping Ankeny to the championship. She placed second on the team with a 40.3 average and was a five-time runner-up. In 2009, she shot a 77 to win the conference title while leading the Hawkettes to the crown. She carded a 69 to win medalist honors at the regional meet by seven strokes. She again tied for fourth at the state meet with a 162 total, helping Ankeny to a third-place finish. A seven-time medalist and a three-time runner-up, she led the squad with a 39.3 average. As a junior, Wagner was a 10-time medalist and a two-time runner-up. She fired a career-best 67 to defend her conference title and also set a school record with a 33 in a dual meet. She placed third at the state meet with a 153 total and again led her team with a 37.8 average. As a senior, Wagner enjoyed one of the most dominant seasons by a girls’ high school golfer in the history of the state. She shot a 146 total to win the Class 4A title by nine strokes while tying for the third-best score in meet history. She also led Ankeny to a fifth-place finish. Wagner posted a career-best 36.8 average and earned medalist honors in 13 of the 14 meets. Her only loss came during a dual meet against Dowling Catholic, when she finished one stroke behind the Maroons’ Sarah Splittgerber. She also fired a 71 to win her third consecutive conference title while leading the Hawkettes to the crown. Wagner went on to play for Iowa State.
Alexis Beard. She was part of a team that won 19 consecutive dual meets from 2002-04 and captured back-to-back state titles in her final two seasons. As a freshman, she placed fourth at the conference meet with an 87 and later helped Ankeny to a third-place finish in Class 3A. As a sophomore, she placed second on the squad with a 42.9 average and helped the Hawkettes to another third-place finish. In 2003, she shot a 70 to earn medalist honors at the regional meet as Ankeny set a school record with a team score of 299. She also carded a 34 in a dual meet to set another school record. She later carded a 75 in the final round of the state meet to place third with a 155 total. She placed second on the team with a 39.3 average. As a senior, Beard fired a 73 to place second at the conference meet, finishing one stroke behind Biga. She shot a 68 to break a school record while claiming medalist honors at the regional meet. She then posted a 162 total to tie for sixth place in Class 4A as the Hawkettes won their second straight crown. She placed second on the team with a 39.0 average. Beard was a 15-time medalist and a 17-time runner-up in her career. She also teamed up with Joe Bethel to win two consecutive state coed titles in 2003-04. She went on to play for South Alabama.
Andrea Beard. She played in four state tournaments for the Hawkettes, matching her older sister’s accomplishment. After helping Ankeny to a runner-up finish as a freshman, she placed 15th at the state meet in 2007 as the Hawkettes again placed second in Class 4A. She posted a 42.6 average as a sophomore. The following year, she shot a 72 to earn medalist honors at the regional meet. Beard then posted a 172 total to place 10th at the state meet, helping Ankeny to its third title in six years. She was a three-time medalist that season and also placed second at the Central Conference meet with a 76, finishing three strokes behind teammate Cate Benner. She posted a 40.7 average. As a senior, she again took runner-up honors at the conference meet, earning all-conference honors for the fourth time as the Hawkettes claimed their fourth straight crown. Beard went on to tie for fourth at the state meet with a 162 total, helping Ankeny to a third-place finish. She was a three-time medalist and a five-time runner-up while placing second on the team with a 41.1 average.
Amanda Davidson. She was a 14-time medalist and a 13-time runner-up in her career, as well as a four-time state placewinner. She took fourth at the conference meet and tied for 15th at the state meet as a freshman in 2005, when she placed second on the team with a 39.9 average. She carded an 80 to place second at the conference meet as a sophomore. After being tied with Sunner for the first-round lead, she posted a 154 total to place seventh in Class 4A while helping the Hawkettes to a second-place finish. She finished with a 40.2 average. As a junior, Davidson fired a 73 to capture the conference title while helping Ankeny to the team crown. She shot a 71 to win the regional meet by four strokes, then placed eighth at the state meet with a 155 total as the Hawkettes earned another runner-up finish. She led the team with a 38.3 average. In 2008, she took third at the conference meet with a 78 as Ankeny claimed its third straight crown. She later shot a 158 total to place second at the state meet, finishing one stroke behind Ottumwa’s Kristin Paulson. However, Davidson led the Hawkettes to a 32-stroke win over defending champion Ottumwa for their fourth state title. The loss also snapped the Bulldogs’ 26-meet winning streak. She led the team with a 37.9 average.
Penny Peters. She was a standout for the Hawkettes in the 1980s under Carlson. In 1984, she teamed up with Dan Angstead to win the state coed title. “Her mental approach was so great that she would get terrible headaches after a match,” Carlson said. “She was a great leader getting other players to practice and to participate in summer events.” Peters was the only AHS golfer who ever beat Carlson, shooting a 72 to his 73. She went on to play for four years at Iowa State.
Carissa Spain. She was the team’s top performer at seven different meets in 1997, when Sarah Gilbert was one of her teammates. She led the squad with a 47.6 average. Spain was a four-time medalist and a five-time runner-up as a senior, when she placed second on the team with a 43.3 average. She teamed up with LaBounty to win the state coed crown in 1998 after they placed second the year before. “She was a good team leader and was very positive throughout her career,” Dickey said.
Kelli Sunner. Abbi’s older sister was a five-time medalist and a four-time runner-up as a senior in 2001, when she led the team with a 42.5 average. She shot a team-best 162 total to lead the Hawkettes to a third-place finish in the Class 3A state meet. She also carded an 84 to place third at the Central Conference meet, leading Ankeny to the team title. As a junior, she led the team with a 45.5 average and was the Hawkettes’ top scorer at 10 of the 14 meets. She was a four-time medalist and a two-time runner-up. Sunner went on to play for Simpson College.
Honorable mention goes to current golfers Lauren Sease of Centennial and Jaci Webb of Ankeny, who both earned a pair of top-24 finishes in the state meet in each of the last two years. Their 2020 season was wiped out by COVID-19, preventing them from adding to their resumes. JoJo Hallenbeck was also a key member of Ankeny’s 2004 championship team. She tied for 13th at the state meet and helped the Hawkettes to their perfect season. She went on to play for Kansas.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ankeny Fanatic teams were selected by publisher Dan Holm, who consulted with former and current coaches before making his picks.)