Prep Sports

Boys' golf notebook: Cedar Rapids Washington off to hot start

Warriors rank fifth in state with 309.67 average

Cedar Rapids Washington's Nile Petersen follows his tee shot from the 10th tee box during the Cedar Rapids Washington Invitational Golf Meet at Elmcrest Country Club in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Washington's Nile Petersen follows his tee shot from the 10th tee box during the Cedar Rapids Washington Invitational Golf Meet at Elmcrest Country Club in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Washington has fared well against tough competition to open the fall golf season.

The Warriors have passed early-season tests during a challenging stretch, receiving a good gauge against many of the top teams in the Class 4A rankings.

“It tells you where you stand,” Washington Coach Dennis Goettel said. “It should give our kids a lot of confidence. We have a pretty good assessment of what we might be able to do.”

The Warriors are ranked fifth in 4A and lead Gazette-area teams with a 309.67 team average through the first three events. They earned a runner-up finish to perennial power Cedar Falls at the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet and claimed the team title at the Linn-Mar Invitational.

“We’ve had a real good start,” Goettel said. “You have three 18-hole meets to start, so you have to be ready and our kids have done a great job.”

Sophomore Nile Petersen has led the way for the Warriors, averaging 73 per round and posting a 37.18 combined adjusted average. He won medalist honors at the Linn-Mar Invitational, carding his low-round of 71 at Hunters Ridge.

Petersen fired a 72 at Elmcrest Country Club, placing fourth out of 108 golfers at the Warrior Invitational.

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“He’s playing very well,” Goettel said. “He’s got to be one of the better sophomores around.”

Petersen tied for 15th in a rain-shortened state meet a year ago. Goettel said Petersen has grown a little, allowing him to gain distance on his shots, and has put in the time playing many summer tournaments against good golfers.

“He works really hard at his game,” Goettel said. “He really works on all aspects of his game.”

The Warriors have depth and balance this season. Junior Kyle Neighbors and senior Whit Haefner average 75.33 and 79.67, respectively. All three tied for sixth or better at the MVC Super Meet with Neighbors in third overall.

Freshmen Ben Blockinger has been a nice surprise, moving into the fourth spot. Joseph Tauber is a returning starter and Andrew Freeman rounds out the lineup that averages 86 or better. Goettel said depth extends to talented reserves, who push the starting six.

“If you’re going to have a good team they all have to contribute,” Goettel said. “I really like our top three guys. I think they’ll be as strong as any threesome and that gives you a great place to start.”

Washington has just two nine-hole meets over a 19-day stretch before hosting the annual CRANDIC meet at Gardner Golf Course on Sept. 10. This is the time to fine-tune their skills.

“We’re trying to work on our game and get better,” Goettel said. “Coach (Steve) Penny and Coach (Bill) Hoefle are working with these kids daily.”

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Top shooters

The top area golfers shouldn’t be much of a surprise to those familiar with area play. Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Brock Barnhart ranks second in the state with a 70.33 18-hole average and 35.73 adjusted average.

Barnhart, a senior committed to Iowa State, shot a 2-under 68 at Elmcrest to capture medalist honors at the Warrior Invitational.

Linn-Mar’s Dillon Burr is tied for sixth with a 37.07 adjusted average. Burr is also the two-time MVC Super Meet medalist. Petersen is ninth at 37.18.

District assignments

Linn-Mar will host a 4A district at Hunters Ridge on Monday, Oct. 7. The Lions welcome a field that includes Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Washington, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Marshalltown, Muscatine, Waterloo East, Waterloo West and Western Dubuque.

Cedar Rapids Xavier, Iowa City High, Iowa City Liberty and Iowa City West travel to Valley Oaks Golf Course in Clinton.

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

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