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State golf host Cedar Rapids Xavier brings brotherly bonds to season finale
Saints have ‘a ton of camaraderie’ entering state Friday and Saturday at Elmcrest
CEDAR RAPIDS — Consider it a family affair, literally and figuratively.
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s boys’ golf team is made up of a pair of brothers, but everybody seems to have a special bond that has propelled the program.
“There’s a ton of camaraderie,” Saints senior Charlie Allen said. “It’s basically a brotherhood. Some of us are actually brothers, but the others treat each other like we are. We’re super close and friendly.”
Chemistry on and off the course has helped Xavier compete with Iowa’s top teams and propelled it to the Class 4A fall golf state tournament Friday and Saturday at Elmcrest Country Club. Xavier will make its eighth state appearance in the last 11 seasons.
“I couldn’t be happier with my team and our depth,” Xavier Coach Tim O’Brien said. “They’re confident.
“One thing I’m proud of is they play fearless.”
Their performance has been as rewarding as their togetherness. Sure, some of it is relative but it extends beyond blood. Xavier had a team dinner Wednesday, celebrating its third-place district finish to qualify for state and to prepare for the season finale. The night was filled with laughter and amusement, according to O’Brien, who drove home in awe of the team’s unity.
“They just get along so unbelievably well,” O’Brien said. “They’ve grown up playing golf with each other. It’s just so much fun for them. They just enjoy being with each other.”
The Saints use those ties to push each other to higher levels. They know how to motivate one another in practice and competition. Xavier has reaped the rewards this season, entering state ranked sixth in 4A with a 152.5 combined adjusted average as a team.
“It helps us stay committed to what we’re going for this year, which is a state championship,” Xavier senior Ryan Schmit said. “We all count on each other to do our job and work as a team so we can do our best.”
Allen and Schmit are part of the brother tandems. Allen is joined by his younger brother, Grant, while Schmit plays with his freshman sibling, Jacob. Quincey Johnson and Garrett Nurre round out the lineup.
The Allens were involved in other sports growing up. They never really competed together, playing rounds mostly on weekends or holidays with family. Charlie played football before turning to fall golf. Grant’s summers were focused on baseball until golf got the nod.
“It’s been super cool,” Charlie said about playing with his brother. “Starting high school, it wasn’t something I knew that we’d be playing together. I had an idea but freshman year I wasn’t sure if I’d be playing with my sibling or not. It wasn’t a certainty, but it’s nice I get to share that with him.”
Ryan Schmit has played both roles playing with his brothers. He played two seasons with his older brother, Matt. Now, he is the elder with Jacob.
“It’s definitely been interesting,” Ryan said. “I got to see how Matt interacted with me and taught me certain things I should know. I learned from that.
“I’m a senior and I can teach Jacob what Matthew taught me and what is important, what’s not and what to focus on. It’s been nice learning from him.”
Xavier was slated as the host team and is playing on a course that is like a second home site. Many of the Saints are members at Elmcrest. Schmit estimated he’s played hundreds of rounds at Elmcrest, including about half with teammates. Being at a familiar course provides an equal amount of confidence and pressure. They are familiar with the terrain and expected to do well.
“The most important thing is the boys manage their expectations,” O’Brien said. “It’s not the kind of golf course you want to press on. I think that is the most crucial thing but at the same time you have a green light. Go for it.”
The field includes the top nine teams in the state rankings. Competition will be tough, starting with top-ranked and defending state champion Cedar Falls, No. 2 Johnston and Pleasant Valley. The Saints will have the luxury of being at home. No late-night travel the day before or early mornings before each round.
“Anything is possible,” Charlie Allen said. “We can beat any team in the state if we play our best.
“Being able to sleep in our own beds, get a home-cooked meal and then going to what is almost a home course I think that will be a formula for success, hopefully.”