INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Rapids Washington was still out on the golf course long after most of the competition went home.
The Warriors still had golf to play since junior Alex Slattery and sophomore Connor Neighbors tied for third and had to playoff for the respective medal.
The situation seemed fitting since Washington earned the right to play a little more golf this season. The Warriors captured the team title at the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 4A district golf meet Tuesday at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course. They fired a total of 307, finishing seven shots in front of runner-up Cedar Falls. Dubuque Senior was third with 318.
Frank Lindwall carded 1-under 71 for medalist honors, leading Washington to the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.
“Our goal has been to get to state and do something there,” Washington co-head coach Dennis Goettel said. “We had to perform today to get there.”
Washington posted three of the top four scores with Slattery and Neighbors tied at 75. Slattery won a playoff for third, scoring par on the second extra hole. Neighbors was fourth overall. They entered the round with an almost identical 18-hole average of a little more than 72.
“They push each other,” Goettel said. “It’s pretty appropriate we had the playoff.”
Lindwall, Slattery and Neighbors have powered the Warriors throughout the season. The other three starters have overcome the pressure to round out the team total. This time it was Ben Skogman, who hadn’t played varsity golf until this season. He delivered with an 86.
“We couldn’t get there without our fourth score,” Goettel said. “They all came through.
“(Ben) has had a great year. He’s come a long way.”
Lindwall showed why he owns the state’s best scoring average this fall. Despite a strong wind that made play difficult, he was the lone golfer under par, beating Cedar Falls’ Ben Bermel by two strokes.
“It was an up and down day,” Lindwall said. “Given the wind, 71 was a pretty decent day.”
Lindwall admitted he didn’t strike the ball well Tuesday, saying he hit just three fairways and only eight greens in regulation. He was able to take advantage of some opportunities, going 4-under on two par-5 holes.
“It was the two eagles,” Lindwall said. “I had two really good shots that saved me four strokes.”
Cedar Rapids Kennedy will be represented at the state tournament as well. Freshman Brock Barnhart and junior Jonah Beman finished in a four-way tie for best score from individuals not on a qualifying team. The Cougars duo shot 77, matching the score of Western Dubuque state qualifier Jack O’Hea and Mason City’s J.J. Wickman.
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