B.E. Area’s Lane signs to golf for Iowa Central

STATELY SWING — Blue Earth Area’s Manning Lane watches his towering tee shot during the 2019 Minnesota State High School League Class AA state golf tournament at Ridges at Sand Creek in Jordan. Blue Earth Area head golf coach Travis Armstrong (back left) watches the drive. (Photo by Greg Abel/Sentinel Archives)

BLUE EARTH — Blue Earth Area golfer Manning Lane has penciled in his name on countless scorecards throughout his impressive high school golf career.

On Thursday, Lane’s official signature on his national letter of intent secured the Buc senior standout a spot on the Iowa Central Community College’s highly-skilled men’s golf roster next season.

“I established a good rapport with him (Iowa Central head coach Kris Graewin) during the recruiting process, and I liked how he runs the program,” said Lane, who recorded the 10th-best 18-hole stroke average — 74.4 — during Minnesota State High School League action in 2019 to earn all-state honors. “I wanted to stay close to home my first collegiate year, and see what happens from there. I’m confident in putting my golf future in his capable hands.”

The Iowa Central men’s golf team closed out the 2020 fall season ranked sixth nationally by Golfstat.com.

Prior to Lane’s signing, Graewin received a commitment from South Africa native Liam Ross on Dec. 12. With Ross — who’s the 20th-best golfer in the country, according to the National U19 Ranking system, and Lane — who’s guided Blue Earth Area to three straight state team appearances in 2017-19 — teeing it up with the talented returning players, the Tritons should remain among the best in the nation.

“Everyone on the (Iowa Central) roster will be fighting for the top six spots, therefore we should have a really good team,” said Lane. “It’s always good to have close competition within a team because it’ll make you work harder and get better and better.”

And Lane has literally done that to a tee and from the tee box since he was a seventh-grade phenom on the Bucs’ varsity lineup.

“As a seventh-grader, Manning contributed to the team score often, including a medalist performance against New Ulm (at Minn-Iowa Golf Course) in Elmore when he shot 36,” said Blue Earth Area head boys golf coach Travis “Doc” Armstrong. “He helped us win the (Big South Conference) East championship that year.”

“I wasn’t very big when I first made the varsity, and then I hit my first growth spurt before my sophomore year and went from 5-foot-4 to 5-8,” Lane reflected. “In between my sophomore and junior years, I hit another one and grew to about 6 foot.

“Now I’m 6-1 1/2 and my whole game flipped. My short game was the best as a seventh- and eighth-grader, but I didn’t hit for much distance. Now I’m a good ball striker, have good length and know how to get around the course, but my short game’s not quite as good.

“That’s the trade-off, I guess,” Lane said with a chuckle.

The four-time all-Big South Conference golfer finished in a tie for 75th overall with a two-day total of 168 to help the Bucs to an eighth-place team showing in 2017. Lane then helped engineer back-to-back fifth-place finishes for Blue Earth Area in both 2018 and 2019. He tied for 23rd with a 151 as a freshman and then shared 29th place overall by carding a 160 as a sophomore.

Lane demonstrated a steady improvement in nine-hole stroke average during the three state-qualifying seasons, producing a 41.7 in 2017, a 39.9 in 2018 and finally a 38.0 in 2019. He and his talented Buc teammates, however, were denied the chance for a fourth straight state bid due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the MSHSL’s cancellation of all prep sports seasons this past spring.

“It seems like it was so long ago that we were playing at Ridges (at Sand Creek in Jordan) in the Class AA state tournament in 2019,” said Lane. “Now I’m just hoping and praying every day that we get the chance to have a season this spring.

“I think we’ve got a legitimate shot at bringing it (state championship) home this spring since we’ve got three other scores (Braden Gudahl, Ashton Lloyd and Max Ehrich) around par. Since the high school league moved Holy Family Catholic into our section last spring, the hardest part may be getting out of the section.”

Holy Family Catholic fired a 310 to win the 2019 Class AA state crown, while Blue Earth Area finished fifth with a 329 — only four strokes away from a third-place showing.

“As he has grown taller and stronger, Manning has added a new dimension to his game. … As Manning improves his driving accuracy and dials in his putting, he will work his way into being a golfer to be contended with,” said Armstrong. “I just hope to get the chance to watch him and his teammate compete this spring.”

Now, Lane and his Buc teammates will take aim at a fourth state appearance in the coronavirus era before toting his clubs to the collegiate level in the fall of 2021.

“My dad (Dustin Lane) has been a huge part of my (golf) career. He helps me with my swing, and along with Doc, has taught me course management,” said Manning Lane, who plans to major in turf grass management at Iowa Central before working on the business side of the sport after he transfers to a bigger school. “I learned from both of them that golf’s not about a perfect swing or a perfect shot, it’s about the final number on the scorecard at the end of the round.”


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