MVC golf divisional races intensify after two rounds

Linn-Mar owns slim lead over Xavier in Mississippi; Washington's Neighbors atop Valley

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Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Xavier have pulled away from the rest of the field in their division.

The gap between the two has closed a little bit with one round remaining.

The Saints captured the first Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division meet Monday at Gates Park in Waterloo. Xavier shot 297 for the team victory in the second of three rounds to determine conference champions, pulling within two strokes of MVC Super Meet titlists Linn-Mar.

“I was really pleased,” Xavier Coach Tim O’Brien said. “I thought the boys performed admirably.”

The Lions were in the hunt Monday, finishing with 302 and maintaining their lead for the final divisional meet at Jones Park Golf Course on Sept. 25. Linn-Mar has a two-round total of 603. Xavier is at 605, making it a two-team race with Dubuque Wahlert in third 50 shots back.

“It’s a tight battle,” Linn-Mar Coach Chris James said. “They (Xavier) played really well on Monday. I’m glad we hung tough.”

The Saints were powered by a strong back nine at Gates Park, shooting even par over that stretch. The golfers who contributed to the winning total posted 35, 36, 36 and 37. Xavier hoarded top honors. Brad Karpick earned medalist honors with 1-under 71, while teammate Ryan Keating was runner-up at 74. Nick Recker and Dan Bailey tied for sixth, shooting 76 apiece.

Karpick has the chance to repeat as Mississippi Division Athlete of the Year, tallying a two-round total of 146, leading Linn-Mar’s Ben Greif by three.

The performance comes on the heels of the Saints' first CRANDIC team title last week. They are looking to extend the momentum from recent success.

“I think they are playing with a lot of confidence,” O’Brien said. “I think we’ll continue to do that.

“I think the team camaraderie has come around. The boys are doing a good job of supporting one another and supporting.”

The Lions exhibited good depth and balance. Most days it would have been enough for a victory. Drew Brandel, Carter Fredrickson and Greif each fired 75 to tie for third. Cole Yearling and Jackson Woods tied for eighth at 77.

Linn-Mar has discussed a divisional title as one of its goals, which would just be a step closer to bigger goals that accompany the postseason.

“We have to keep getting better,” James said. “That’s the big thing.”

CEDAR FALLS CONTROLS VALLEY

Cedar Falls took the lead in the MVC Valley Division, winning Monday’s divisional at Bunker Hill Golf Course in Dubuque. The Tigers shot 293, beating runner-up Dubuque Senior by four.

Cedar Rapids Prairie was third with 298. Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy rounded out the top five, shooting 301 and 302, respectively.

The Tigers entered the second round tied with Kennedy at 311 and now lead by nine. The Warriors are in third at 320 and Prairie is fourth with 324.

The Valley finishes its divisional play at The Meadows Golf Course in Dubuque on Sept. 25.

Washington’s Connor Neighbors, who shared MVC Valley co-Athlete of the Year with teammate Alex Slattery a year ago, leads the individual race. He tied Cedar Falls’ Taylor Heinen with a 67 for medalist honors Monday, giving him a two-round total of 140. Neighbors leads both Prairie’s Ian Johnston and Cedar Falls’ Ben Bermel by three strokes.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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