CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Brock Barnhart has been motivated to be the best.
The senior golfer set his sights on a state title after a runner-up finish as a freshmen. The last two trips didn’t produce that elusive gold, but he will get one last shot at the course where it all started.
“After freshman year and how well I played, I’ve had my standards really high, thinking I have a good chance to win it the next three years,” Barnhart said. “I’ve disappointed myself the last two, but I was hoping this year I can put together two rounds at the same place I played freshman year.
“I’m hoping it will give me some luck this week to play really well.”
Barnhart leads the state in scoring average and will make his fourth trip to the Class 4A boys' state golf meet. The two-day event begins Friday at the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.
This meet isn’t an all-or-nothing finale for the Iowa State commit. He has a healthy perspective, but make no mistake about his desire to cap his varsity career with medalist honors.
“I like to try to have fun in high school,” said Barnhart, who was introduced with a play golf set at 3 years old and began lessons as early as 5. “If I don’t win state, it’s not going to be the end of me. There are a lot of great tournaments coming up that I want to play well in, but if I don’t win state it won’t be the biggest deal for me. It definitely matters to me, though.”
To say the last two seasons have been a disappointment is harsh. Barnhart tied for fifth as a sophomore and last year was reduced to a one-round competition due to rain and wet conditions.
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“He’s pretty hard on himself,” Kennedy Coach Mike Green said. “He’s just so driven. He wants to win that individual state title so bad.”
A strong start would be helpful, but might be hard for any golfer to produce. Rain is in the forecast and temperatures might be lower than at any time this season. The mental aspect will come into play.
“If you just tell yourself these conditions are fine and there’s nothing wrong with these conditions, you’ve already beaten a lot of the field in the mental aspect,” Barnhart said. “A lot of people are probably complaining about the conditions and having to play in it. It will make them play worse overall.”
Barnhart possesses a state best 36.61 combined adjusted average. His 18-hole average is second only to Marshalltown’s Cole Davis, who came in two strokes back of Barnhart at Monday’s district meet.
Barnhart has devoted numerous hours to his craft and the effort has placed him in this position.
“He wouldn’t be where he is today without that work ethic,” Green said. “He’s put in a lot of time.”
Barnhart will be joined by his Cougars teammates for the first time. Kennedy earned its first state team berth since 2014. Josh White is the only other senior in the lineup and will make his first trip.
“It’s awesome,” White said. “We all wanted it so bad this year. Brock and I wanted to go as a team because we’re seniors.”
Barnhart welcomes the company and said he expects it to be more enjoyable.
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“It’s going to be a lot more fun than the other years, being by yourself and having no one to talk to,” Barnhart said. “Just being able to play with them will make me feel better overall.”
The Cougars punched their ticket with a third-place finish at Hunters Ridge. Barnhart, White, A.J. Corkery, Gannon Hall, Simeon Jauhiainen and Brady Shea helped Kennedy shoot 321. Younger players have developed consistency to support the upperclassmen and form a strong nucleus for coming seasons.
“As long as we do that and keep improving, we’ll do a nice job this weekend,” Green said. “Going forward for next year, we’ve got four of the six guys back, so hopefully they continue to work on their games.”
Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Xavier will join Kennedy in the field. The Warriors are making their fifth straight appearance. The Saints have qualified for a third straight year, which is a program first.
Linn-Mar two-time Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet champion and MVC Mississippi Division Player of the Year Dillon Burr will make his debut, qualifying with medalist honors Monday. He will be joined in the individual field by Western Dubuque’s Davis Stelzer and Iowa City High’s Reese Hayden.
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