CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn-Mar golfers were recipients of some good-nature smack talk.
The Lions laughed it off and embraced the challenge from former teammates, who texted to say they couldn’t top last year’s season opener. Now, they have bragging rights.
Linn-Mar won its second straight Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet team title Thursday, shooting 301 at Ellis Golf Course. The team total was six strokes better than last year’s winning score and seven ahead of runner-up Cedar Rapids Xavier.
The Lions were ready to prove themselves.
“We didn’t like to hear that,” said senior Ben Greif, who led Linn-Mar with 74. “We wanted to show them. We did that.”
Linn-Mar’s first-year head coach Chris James said he liked the way his team responded. He doesn’t mind a little fun back-and-forth and wants the Lions to keep it up. Five of them broke 80 and the two lowest scores would have counted for all but two other teams.
“These guys want to play their best every day,” James said. “That is true regardless where they play or who they go against.”
Balance and depth powered the Lions. All six golfers were within nine strokes. In addition to Greif, Cole Yearling and Drew Brandel each shot 75. Zach Armstrong added a 77. Greif finished fifth, individually. Yearling and Brandel were sixth and seventh, respectively.
James said he has a handful of others capable of cracking the starting lineup.
“We have a lot of consistency across the board,” James said. “It’s a good problem to have. They are going to push each other. That’s the hope.”
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All six are seniors. Four of the players were a part of last year’s state team that finished third at state. Many of the Lions played competitively throughout the summer. Their experience has prepared them for big events.
“These guys have played in meets like this before,” James said. “They’re more comfortable in pressure situations.”
Greif carded 1-under 35 on the back nine, recording birdies on the par-5 No. 12 hole and par-4 fifth. He hit fairways and greens in regulation regularly. His game came together after a rough qualifying round that left him as the Lions’ fourth golfer.
“I was hitting it pretty close,” Greif said of his irons. “That and the driver were working today.”
Cedar Falls’ Ben Bermel earned medalist honors, shooting 1-under 71. He edged Cedar Rapids Prairie runner-up Ian Johnston by one stroke.
Johnston posted three birdies, including two on par 5 holes. He also carded three on the par-4 15th, shooting 1-under 35 on the back nine.
“Putting was really good,” Johnston said. “I hit a lot of greens and got a lot of birdie opportunities.
“All around it was pretty good.”
Johnston is looking for his first state trip this season and adding first-team all-conference honors after a second-team performance last season. This meet was a good first step.
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“It gives me confidence,” Johnston said. “I can shoot this low and shoot low later.”
Xavier was led by returning MVC divisional Athlete of the Year Brad Karpick, who fired 75. Nick Recker helped the Saints with 76. Matt Neumeyer and Dan Bailey shot 78 and 79, respectively.
Cedar Rapids Washington duo Connor Neighbors and Alex Slattery earned top-four finishes. Neighbors was third with 73 and Slattery won a cardback for fourth after his 74.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY CONFERENCE SUPER MEET
At Ellis Golf Course
Teams — 1. Linn-Mar 301, 2. C.R. Xavier 308, 3. (tie) Cedar Falls and C.R. Kennedy 311, 5. C.R. Washington 319, 6. C.R. Prairie 326, 7. Dubuque Senior 327, 8. Dubuque Wahlert 333, 9. Dubuque Hempstead 342, 10. Iowa City West 355, 11. Iowa City High 378, 12. (tie) C.R. Jefferson and Waterloo West 385, 14. Waterloo East 548.
Individuals — 1. Ben Bermel (CF), 71, 2. Ian Johnston (CRP), 72, 3. Connor Neighbors (CRW), 73, 4. Alex Slattery (CRW), 74*, 5. Ben Greif (LM), 74.
LINN-MAR (301): Greif 74, Cole Yearling 75, Drew Brandel 75, Zach Armstrong 77.
XAVIER (308): Brad Karpick 75, Nick Recker 76, Matt Neumeyer 78, Dan Bailey 79.
KENNEDY (311): Brock Barnhart 76, Conrado Chazos-Martinez 76, Jonah Beman 78, Luke Martin 81.
WASHINGTON (319): Neighbors 73, Slattery 74, Whit Haefner 78, Ben Skogman 94.
PRAIRIE (326): Johnston 72, Sam Lockhart 75, Jeremy Jennissen 89, Zak Zahner 90.
I.C. WEST (355): Kyle Spence 79, Zach Starman 86, Ryan Cooper 92, Mason Carter 98.
CITY HIGH (378): Devon Rutt 88, Campbell Johnson 92, Winston Lui 99, Will McIntire 99.
C.R. JEFFERSON (385): Lucas Brown 92, Evan Griffith 96, Sam Staley 97, Austin Schmitz 100.
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