Prep Sports

Linn-Mar girls' golf looks for chance to return to state

Lions are ranked third in Class 4A scoring

Linn-Mar's Tori Niemeyer hits the ball onto the green on hole 15 during the 2018 Mississippi Valley Conference Supermeet Golf Tournament at Gardner Golf Course in Marion on Monday, April 31, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar's Tori Niemeyer hits the ball onto the green on hole 15 during the 2018 Mississippi Valley Conference Supermeet Golf Tournament at Gardner Golf Course in Marion on Monday, April 31, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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MARION — Linn-Mar walked away from last year’s girls' state golf meet happy, but not satisfied.

The Lions had exceeded their ranking by qualifying and then placed seventh overall. The bar has been raised with everyone back from that team and an influx of young talent.

“We’re ready to go back again this year, hopefully,” Linn-Mar junior Tori Niemeyer said. “We're just trying to do better than seventh place. Finish higher this year.”

Linn-Mar will attempt to return to the state meet, competing in a Class 4A regional Monday at Geneva Country Club in Muscatine. The Lions will compete for one of two state berths with Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Davenport Central, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Muscatine and Ottumwa.

“Now that we did it last year we know we can do it this year,” Linn-Mar senior Kristen Harding said. “I think we all have the mindset that we want to go and place well.

The Lions are third in 4A with a 338 18-hole average and 180.59 combined adjusted average. They are a huge favorite on paper.

Linn-Mar averages more than 54 strokes better than the next best team, which is Washington at 392.17. Bettendorf is third at 395, a whopping 57 strokes behind the Lions’ average. Combined adjusted averages are as distant with the Bulldogs at 202 and Warriors with 202.68.

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The Lions won’t take anything for granted. They know they have to earn their way back to state.

“You can never underestimate your opponents,” Niemeyer said. “You never know what the conditions will be like and how everyone will play the course. You have to go in like everyone there is your toughest competition.”

The Lions were motivated by the success at the end of last season. They devoted more time to improve their games. The experience has helped elevate expectations. How does the current team compare to a year ago?

“It’s very similar,” Harding said, “I think we built more confidence from last year to this year.”

Depth has been a key component to Linn-Mar’s success. Freshman Tatum Depuydt joined Niemeyer and Harding with first-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division honors. Five Lions earned all-division recognition and the team was runner-up to 3A title contender Dubuque Wahlert.

Competition between teammates has prepared the Lions for competition, making practice rounds similar to the meet environment.

“It benefits all of us having to compete against one another,” Niemeyer said. “It makes us play even better.”

Metro teams were sent to three different regional sites. Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Western Dubuque will compete at The Meadows Golf Course in Dubuque. The field includes Clinton, Davenport North, Davenport West, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, North Scott and Pleasant Valley.

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Cedar Rapids Jefferson will travel to Marshalltown for a regional at American Legion Golf Course.

In Class 3A, Marion will head to regional play at Emeis Park Golf Course in Davenport. The Indians will be in a field that includes Washington (Iowa), Center Point-Urbana, Maquoketa, Solon and West Liberty.

The top two teams and top eight individuals will advance to state tournaments May 29-30. Class 4A will be held at Elmwood Country Club in Marshalltown. Coldwater Golf Links in Ames will host the 3A state meet. The 2A state meet will be at Lake Panorama National Golf Course in Panora. Marshalltown’s American Legion Golf Course will host 1A state competition.

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

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