116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Erik Columbus has coached Cedar Rapids Prairie golf for more than a decade.
During that time, he can’t think of a better start to the season. Maybe because it really isn’t a start for a team that dedicated more time to offseason competitions.
“The guys played tournaments all summer, so it wasn’t such a big deal since they came in here so well prepared,” Columbus said. “I think this is a direct result of it.”
The Hawks earned their best team finish at the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet under Columbus, posting a 295 team total Thursday at Gardner Golf Course to place a distant second to state title contender Cedar Falls. The Tigers’ Owen Sawyer captured medalist honors with an 8-under 64, edging Cedar Rapids Washington’s Nile Petersen by one.
Prairie was one of five teams to break 300. Cedar Falls dominated the field with 277, but second through fourth in the team race was separated by just four strokes. Washington was third at 296, Cedar Rapids Kennedy fired 297 and Cedar Rapids Xavier rounded out the top five at 299.
“This is the best we’ve done for as long as I can remember,” Columbus said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way things went.”
Prairie advanced to state for the second time in school history last season. It returned just two starters — Tanner Wachtl and Payton Burns. They led the way and the Hawks proved to have the supporting scorers. Wachtl was seventh with an even-par 72, while Burns came in ninth at 73.
“It feels really good,” said Wachtl, who carded seven birdies. “A lot of people stepped up. I just feel this means a lot to our team.”
Ashton Carmer and Nick Schaff added 75 apiece. Schaff played just one nine-hole varsity event last year and Carmer was one of three making his varsity debut Thursday.
“Ashton has been playing really well lately, so it was good to see him get a good score,” Burns said. “Nick, he put in the work this last week and came through for the team.
“We’ve all played tournament golf this summer. We’ve been working hard. It’s all paid off.”
The Hawks have developed a close bond. They have spent lots of time on and off the course, playing, practicing, having lunch or simply hanging out. The opening performance shows Prairie’s potential.
“I think we’re looking good for the rest of the season,” Burns said. “I wasn’t expecting to do as well as we did today, but if we can keep putting good scores up like that, it will go really well.”
Petersen recorded an exceptional round with two birdies on the front for a 2-under 34. On the back, he shot 31 with three straight birdies from Nos. 10-12, on No. 14 and the 16th hole.
“Off the tee, I was putting myself in positions where I had short irons and wedges in and when you give yourself 16 opportunities at doing that you’re going to hit some close shots and make some putts.”
Washington’s Ben Blockinger was fifth with 71. Joe Giblin and freshman Preston Haefner each shot 80 for the Warriors. Petersen’s round would have won almost any tournament and any previous Super Meet. The takeaways were all positive for the former state runner-up and senior.
“Obviously, my game is in a really good spot,” Petersen said. “We have a strong team. We have a lot of work to do.
“Cedar Falls played awesome. Kudos to them. Nothing but positives taken away from this round.”
The Tigers placed all four scorers in the top six. In addition to Sawyer, Max Tjoa was third with 70, Jack Beecher placed fourth with 71 and J.J. Nelson finished sixth at 72.
Overall, seven golfers shot par or better in near-perfect conditions. A score of 2-over was not good enough to crack the top 10.
“I can’t remember a time last year where the scores were this good,” Petersen said. “I think everyone is trying to beat each other. We’re feeding off one another, making all the scores lower and better.”
MVC Super Meet
At Gardner Golf Course
Teams – 1. Cedar Falls 277, 2. C.R. Prairie 295, 3. C.R. Washington 296, 4. C.R. Kennedy 297, 5. C.R. Xavier 299, 6. Dubuque Wahlert 304, 7. Iowa City West 322, 8. Iowa City Liberty 323, 9. Linn-Mar 325, 10. C.R. Jefferson 326, 11. Western Dubuque 328, 12. Dubuque Senior 339, 13. Dubuque Hempstead 351*, 14. Waterloo West 351, 15. Iowa City High 405, 16. Waterloo East 407.
Individuals – 1. Owen Sawyer (CF), 64, 2. Nile Petersen (CRW), 65, 3. Max Tjoa (CF), 70, 4. Jack Beecher (CF), 71*, 5. Ben Blockinger (CRW), 71.
PRAIRIE (295): Tanner Wachtl 72, Payton Burns 73, Ashton Carmer 75, Nick Schaff 75
WASHINGTON (296): Petersen 65, Blockinger 71, Joe Giblin 80, Preston Haefner 80
KENNEDY (297): Gannon Hall 73, A.J. Corkery 73, Reid Hall 75, Carter Vander Zee 76
XAVIER (299): Charlie Allen 74, Garrett Nurre 75, Quincey Johnson 75, Ryan Schmit 75
I.C. WEST (322): Cole Eberly 76, Brady Simcox 80, Dillon Croco 80, Owen Larson 86
I.C. LIBERTY (323): J.J. Grimm 76, Tate Brunk 79, Ryan Schmierer 82, Braden O’Conner 86
LINN-MAR (325): Matthew Buse 77, Caden Postma 78, Shrey Kapoor 84, Alex Johnson 86, Carter Bond 86
JEFFERSON (326): Adam Panoch 80, Landon Augustine 81, Logan Augustine 82, Logan Miller 83
CITY HIGH (405): Zach Meredith 96, Nick Meredith 97, Arthur Hall 102, Drake Obermueller 110