Linn-Mar Coach Chris James stresses the importance of each player and that each stroke matters.
The message may border on cliché, but he knows firsthand the impact it can have. He was a senior at Cedar Rapids Washington when a tiebreaker was the difference in reaching the state golf meet.
If that wasn’t enough to prove his point, the Lions have their own proof. Less than two weeks to go before the postseason, Linn-Mar won a tiebreaker over host Cedar Falls in the 14-team Tiger Invitational Monday at Beaver Creek Country Club.
The Lions were first thanks to the best fifth-player score. Both teams shot 317, but Zach Armstrong posted an 84 and beat his Cedar Falls counterpart by a stroke.
“We’ve always known we had good depth,” James said. “We haven’t had to rely on it in a meet where we tie. It’s an authentic example that every shot counts.”
James said the Lions learned that they are mentally tough, closing the round with long and crucial putts when the margin of error was razor thin. They have a good team mentality in an individual sport.
“I think the guys have an idea what they want to do and what is important,” James said. “Hopefully, we can use this as a springboard.”
Linn-Mar was led by Cole Yearling, who finished in a three-way for best score. Yearling, Cedar Rapids Washington’s Connor Neighbors and Dubuque Wahlert’s Sam Abrosy shot 74. Neighbors was medalist on a cardback with Yearling placing second.
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“He showed how good he is and what he means to our team,” James said. “He’s right up there.”
Yearling has played better recently. The Lions are a much better team when Yearling is at his best. He has a team-high 76.40 18-hole average.
“It’s always good to have him play well,” James said. “It motivates his teammates to step up and raise their games.”
Ben Greif shot 79 for Monday. Drew Brandel and Carter Fredrickson added 82 apiece for the Lions, who topped three top-10 teams. The performance was a good dry run for the postseason. They will face a similar field at district, which is also at Cedar Falls.
“They also have to know we’re going to play a lot of good teams at district,” James said. “They have to know at this level you have to grind everything out.
“I think we’re in a good place.”
Class 4A golf districts will be held Tuesday, Oct. 3. The top three teams advance to the state tournament Oct. 6-7 at Elmwood Country Club in Marshalltown. The top two individuals, including ties, not on a qualifying team also advance.
Cedar Rapids Xavier is one of four district hosts. The Saints will welcome Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Rapids Washington, Clinton, Davenport Assumption, Davenport Central, Davenport North, Davenport West, Dubuque Wahlert, Muscatine, North Scott, Ottumwa and Pleasant Valley.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Iowa City High, Iowa City Liberty, Iowa City West, Linn-Mar and Western Dubuque travel to Pheasant Ridge in Cedar Falls. The host Tigers, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Marshalltown, Waterloo East and Waterloo West round out the district field.
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Ames will host at Veenker Memorial Golf Course. Sioux City East will hold a district at Whispering Creek Golf Club.
Cedar Rapids Xavier owns the best team average in the Metro/Iowa City area. The Saints, who were third Monday, have a 158.13 combined adjusted average, edging Cedar Rapids Kennedy by .20.
The Cougars have the top-scoring individual. Brock Barnhart, the 2016 4A state runner-up, is fourth in the state with a 73.33 18-hole average. The Iowa State commit is third in combined adjusted average at 37.08.
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