Prep Sports

Cascade's Race Cuckler playing his best golf, shooting for state meet medal

Class 2A meet begins Thursday in Marshalltown

Cascade Cougars
Cascade Cougars

CASCADE — Race Cuckler was 4 years old when his stepdad introduced him to golf.

They would venture to a small par-3 course among the rural acres of Jones County before advancing to Fillmore Fairways a couple years later. Cuckler developed a passion for golf and played competitively by the time he turned 9.

When he had success in bigger events as a 12-year-old, Cuckler realized he had talent, too.

“I remember I won two tournaments that year,” the Cascade senior said. “I was like, ‘maybe I could take this somewhere.’”

Golf has led him to different parts of the country with the next stop at Marshalltown’s American Legion Golf Course for the Class 2A state tournament, beginning Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The second and final round is set for Friday at 8 a.m.

Cuckler is a making his third state appearance and has his sights set on a medal, even one with a golden tint.

“I want to do the best that I can,” Cuckler said. “I’d love to win one. I’ve been preparing myself all season. I should be fine, shooting good scores.”

The Ferris State University commit has reaped the rewards of offseason work as well. He said he played up to 20 tournaments outside of the varsity season early on, but now plays in select qualifiers for bigger tournaments. Cuckler said he has visited states, including Florida, Michigan and Missouri, to play golf, meeting people he would have never crossed paths with otherwise.

“I’ve always enjoyed (golf),” said Cuckler, who will play between nine and 27 holes a day or hit the range during the summer. “It’s fun seeing where golf can take you.”

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Cascade Coach Steve Weber recognized that enthusiasm for the sport. He said Cuckler makes an effort to improve and will work beyond the normal practice time.

“He’s got a love of the game,” Weber said. “He’s a pretty well-seasoned player. I would give him a good chance of getting that goal.”

Cuckler placed ninth as a sophomore and tied for 20th last season. He is determined to improve on both finishes.

“I wasn’t really happy with how I played, but that’s how it goes,” Cuckler said about his junior campaign. “This year, I’ve felt I’ve played my best golf. I feel like I should have a shot at the top 10.”

Cuckler enters the state meet third in 2A with a 74.5 18-hole average and 38.89 combined adjusted average. He earned regional medalist honors, shooting 1-under par 69. Weber said he has shot under par in a few instances and that his biggest gain might be in his mental approach.

“He’s really starting to feel like he’s comfortable, getting birdies here or there and keeping his score low,” Weber said. “It doesn’t really seem to matter about the score. He just gets in the moment. He’s got a better focus.”

Weber said he believed Cuckler was hitting his stride toward the end of the season. Both are confident in Cuckler’s ability to claim some hardware in his last prep meet.

“This is his final hurrah,” Weber said. “He definitely wants to make an impact with how he does at the state tournament.”

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Iowa City Regina’s Mark Schomer also advanced to the 2A state meet, while West Branch earned a spot in the team competition.

In 3A, Marion’s Jacob Lang and West Delaware’s Brandon Larsen qualified for the individual field at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge. Washington (Iowa) will compete in the team field.

East Buchanan’s Jacob Hesner, Edgewood-Colesburg’s Ethan Streicher and Iowa Valley’s Gabe Ritter will compete in the 1A state meet at Westwood Golf Course in Newton.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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