116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Erik Columbus has a sly sense of humor.
The Cedar Rapids Prairie Coach snuck in a strong pun, describing the nearly two-week break from competition after a start that placed the Hawks among the state’s top Class 4A boys’ golf teams teams in scoring average.
“We hope to get back in the swing of things,” Columbus said with a laugh. “We have a big one (Thursday). The guys have been working hard. They are itching to get out there.”
The Hawks are fifth in Class 4A for 18-hole adjusted and combined adjusted averages, entering Thursday’s Mississippi Valley Conference quadrangular against Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Xavier and host Dubuque Senior at Bunker Hill Golf Course. Prairie owns a 305.07 adjusted average per 18 and 152.53 combined mark.
“It shows a lot of potential,” said Prairie sophomore Tanner Wachtl, who is the team’s No. 1 player. “We lost four seniors from last year. A lot of people stepped up.”
Prairie opened with a tough schedule, earning a runner-up finish at the MVC Super Meet at Gardner, fourth at the Linn-Mar Invitational at Hunters Ridge and a top-half showing in the Cedar Rapids Washington Warrior Invitational at Cedar Rapids Country Club.
Wachtl and Payton Burns returned with state experience but the rest of the team had just one varsity round last season. Nick Schaff averages 79.67 per round and Ashton Carmer comes in at 82.33. Both have low rounds of 75. Mason Kimm and Jace Rickertsen shoot 87 and 88.33, respectively.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with those four new guys,” Columbus said. “They have not played like new guys.
“They’re playing like veterans, which is a compliment to their preparation for the season.”
Columbus said he encouraged them to put in the time in the offseason, but noted many took the initiative on their own to work on their skills. They have built a strong bond and are with each other on and off the course, according to Columbus.
“We’re very close,” Burns said after the MVC Super Meet. “We all hang out.”
The bonus for Prairie, which made its second state meet appearance last season, is they can all return next season. Wachtl is a sophomore, while the rest are juniors. The future looks bright for the Hawks.
“They know they have room for growth,” Columbus said. “They aren’t doing cartwheels when they come in with what would have been a good score for them last year. They are striving to improve. It’s pretty exciting times for us.”
Annual CRANDIC meet is Tuesday
The annual CRANDIC boys’ golf meet will be held Tuesday at Brown Deer Golf Club in Coralville. Iowa City Liberty will host the nine-team field of Class 4A Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Marion programs.
Linn-Mar is the defending CRANDIC team titlist. Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Gannon Hall finished third and is the event’s top returning individual from last season.
Six MVC teams rank among the top 13 of 4A in combined adjusted average.
State title contender Cedar Falls is first at 147.63, while Kennedy is second with 149.15. West Des Moines Dowling is third and Waukee is fourth at 150 and 151, while Prairie rounds out the top five.
Washington (156.71), Xavier (157.69) and Dubuque Wahlert (158.67) sit 11th through 13th.