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.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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Benton Community entered the spring with lofty goals.
The only question was how they would respond to the challenge of reaching them.
The Bobcats answered with a memorable year, advancing to the Class 3A district golf meet Friday at Pin Oak Links in Manchester.
“This is the year we’ve been building to the last three years, coming in with those expectations and rising to them was the biggest concern,” Benton Coach Jeremy Suiter said. “They definitely have done that and hopefully will continue to do it (Friday).”
Benton has all the elements in place. It has upper-class leaders, a No. 1 golfer capable of shooting a low round and tremendous depth.
The Bobcats are seventh in 3A with a 316.80 team average. Senior Landen Pace is fifth in 3A individually, shooting 73.8 per round. Suiter said some younger golfers solidified the lineup that had as many as eight vying for starting spots until the end of the regular season.
Competition helped pushed them to get better and started their first qualifying round.
“Landen Pace has improved every year he’s played and he started at a pretty decent level, improving to that solid No. 1 that you need to make a run in golf and put up those low scores,” Suiter said. “The depth has been huge with Spencer Touro and Tyler Eggert at our (Nos.) 2 and 3 that we can count on every meet. We have three sophomores and it seems like every meet a different one of those three step up with a score that we need.”
They have combined for a record-setting season. In the final home meet of the season, the seniors finished off their home careers in style, shooting 150 for a new school mark over nine holes.
“Putting together four solid scores that day was a huge goal we accomplished,” Suiter said. “We saw we could put up some really good scores.”
Even more impressive, the Bobcats opened the postseason with a sectional team title, posting a school record 300 and beating runner-up DeWitt Central by 10 strokes. Eggert earned medalist honors with 71, edging Pace by one.
Benton also added a first, winning the Wamac West championship. The Bobcats had to outshoot highly -anked Williamsburg to do it.
Benton will join the Sabers, Charles City and West Delaware in district play. The top two teams advance to the state meet and the third-place team also will move on, if West Delaware finishes in the top two on its home course. The Wamac will be heavily represented by individuals there as well, including Marion’s Trey Clifton, Vinton-Shellsburg’s Tanner Cummings and Anamosa’s Cole Sander. Decorah freshman Jay Fjelstul is also in the field.
Benton has a tough test to earn its first team berth to state golf since 1986. The golfers know what is at stake, but Suiter has them focused on their round.
“They’ve done their math and they know where we’re sitting,” Suiter said. “We just keep talking about playing our game and it doesn’t really matter what everyone else is doing. We just have to play our game and we’re going to be in a good spot.”
In 2A, Jesup, Clayton Ridge, Dyersville Beckman, Mid-Prairie and North Cedar will compete at Gates Park in Waterloo. Individuals from Cascade, Tipton and West Branch also will be in the field.
In 1A, defending state champion East Buchanan will host a district at Pleasant Valley Golf Course in Iowa City. The team field includes Alburnett, Belle Plaine, Starmont, Lisbon, Midland, Iowa Valley and Sigourney.
State tournaments for all three classes will be held May 26-27. The 3A state tournament will be at Spring Valley Course in Livermore. Fort Dodge’s Lakeside Golf Course will hold the 2A meet. State for 1A will be at American Legion Golf Course in Marshalltown.
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