Prep Sports

IHSAA boys' golf district at Hunters Ridge will be tough road to state

Some top teams and individuals could miss out on qualification

Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Brock Barnhart is the No. 1-ranked golfer in Class 4A. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Brock Barnhart is the No. 1-ranked golfer in Class 4A. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The Class 4A high school boys’ golf postseason is rapidly approaching.

Districts for the fall season are less than three weeks away.

Many area teams face a tough road if they want to reach the state meet Oct. 11-12 at Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.

Linn-Mar hosts one of the toughest fields at Hunters Ridge Golf Course, including top-ranked Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, No. 10 Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, No. 7 Marshalltown, Muscatine, Waterloo East, Waterloo West and Western Dubuque.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” Washington Coach Dennis Goettel said. “It could be tough for teams, but it could also be tough for individuals.

The district consists of five of the top-15 teams in the state based on combined adjusted average. Eleven of the 13 teams are ranked in the top 31, which is more than any other distirct. They will compete for just three state team berths. Only the top two individuals on non-qualifying teams will also advance.

Three of the top four individuals in the state — Kennedy’s Brock Barnhart, Marshalltown’s Cole Davis and Cedar Falls’ Jack Moody — will compete.

“We have some of the best individuals in the state in our region,” Goettel said. “If their team doesn’t make it and they have an off day they may not even go to state. That’s just the way it is though. That’s competition.”

The Hunters Ridge district includes the top two teams in both the Mississippi Valley Conference divisional races. Cedar Falls leads Washington in the MVC Mississippi, while Linn-Mar leads Kennedy in the MVC Valley. Nine of the top 11 MVC teams will compete in Marion.


Prairie Coach Erik Columbus said he would like to see the Iowa High School Athletic Association wait to determine district assignments during the season like the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union does in the spring.

“It mystifies me why the boys don’t do the same,” Columbus said. “Unfortunately, there are going to be some very good teams that don’t qualify due to the boys’ association picking (districts) before a shot has been hit.”

Goettel noted the top six teams in Central Iowa remain constant, while the top tier in Eastern Iowa fluctuates from year to year. The door is left open for uneven groupings.

“On this side of the state, a half-dozen teams change around quite a bit,” Goettel said. “We just have more balance over here.”

Regardless of the strength of district, players still have to play their best when it matters most. Golfers can’t get distracted by the competition and have to focus on their own games to peak for the postseason.

“I’d say we have to look at it like it’s not about the teams in our district, but more about us getting prepared to play our best golf at districts,” Linn-Mar Coach Chris James said. “We can only control how we prepare and approach our play, and if we play our best golf we have to be satisfied with whatever the outcome.”

Western Dubuque brothers nearly identical

Davis and Jax Stelzer have solidified their positions as Western Dubuque’s top two golfers. The brother tandem helped lead the Bobcats to a second-place finish at the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division golf meet Monday at Thunder Hills Country Club in Dubuque.

Both finished in a four-way tied for third with Washington’s Nile Petersen and Max Tjoa, of Cedar Falls, shooting 75. They produced the two best scores for the Bobcats, who posted 311 and ended up 10 shots back of the Tigers.

The Stelzers remain in the hunt for their second straight first-team all-MVC Mississippi honors. They are tied for fifth after two rounds, sitting at 152 with Cedar Falls’ Luke Meyer.


They have shot nearly identical numbers this season. Davis owns a 39.55 combined adjusted scoring average, edging the 39.63 of Jax. Davis, a sophomore, is exactly one stroke better per nine holes, averaging 39.67. Jax, a junior and returning state qualifier, has the Bobcats’ best 18-hole average at 76.60, while Davis comes in at 77.

Dead heat in MVC Mississippi

Washington’s Kyle Neighbors and Moody, of Cedar Falls, are deadlocked for the lead atop the overall standings of the MVC Mississippi Division race for Athlete of the Year honors.

Neighbors and Moody have carded identical scores through the first two legs of the three-round competition. They shot 72 at the MVC Super Meet in August at St. Andrews Golf Club. They carded 73 apiece at the divisional meet Monday at Thunder Hills.

Moody was a first-teamer last season and Neighbors earned honorable mention honors. Neighbors is looking to follow in the steps of his brother, Connor, who graduated after winning two straight division Athlete of the Year awards and sharing it in 2016.

“I’m sure Kyle is real excited about it,” Goettel said. “Nile Petersen isn’t out of it either. I know it’s real important to those kids. They’ll give it their best shot.”

Cedar Falls leads Washington by 20 strokes for first place overall. Cedar Rapids Xavier and Western Dubuque are tied for third, 13 shots back of the Warriors.

The second divisional and final round will be held Oct. 1 at Bunker Hill Golf Course in Dubuque.

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