Prep Sports

Golf notes: Linn-Mar Lions ready to tame elements and competition

Linn-Mar finished second in season debut; CRANDIC approaches; Early leaders

Linn-Mar's Tori Niemeyer sets up a putt on hole 16 at the MVC Mississippi Division girls' golf meet at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Marion on Monday, May 8, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar's Tori Niemeyer sets up a putt on hole 16 at the MVC Mississippi Division girls' golf meet at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Marion on Monday, May 8, 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

MARION — Weather has hampered the start of the spring golf season.

Cold temperatures, unexpected snow storms and seasonal rains have prevented some teams from practicing, nevertheless, competing.

Linn-Mar was one of those teams that had to remain patient, playing in its first event of the season Wednesday. The Lions return five golfers with all-Mississippi Valley Conference accolades from a Class 5A state meet qualifier a year ago.

Linn-Mar Coach Chris James has had to improvise in the early stages of the season, attempting to prepare his players.

“We definitely had to modify some stuff, that’s for sure,” said James, in his second season as the Lions’ head coach. “This is our fourth week of practice. I think the golf course has only been open eight to 10 of those days.

“We’ve done some other things. We’ve met in the classroom and done things like that. I think we’ve only got on the course three or four times to play about five holes.”

The Lions opened with a runner-up performance at Pleasant Valley in Iowa City. They shot 190, finishing two shots back of Dubuque Wahlert in the triangular hosted by Iowa City High.

The team has handled the situation well, according to James. He said negative comments or a bad attitude may have surfaced when the elements were undesirable in the past. The Lions have powered through and focused on improvement during the brief moments they have hit range balls, chipped, putted or even played holes outside.

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“I’ve been really pleased,” James said. “They’re just chomping at the bit to get out and play.

“They’ve been pretty gung-ho and excited about working on their game. I’ve appreciated their attitude toward it.”

A strong core of seniors has been at the forefront, spurring the Lions. James said they have been the driving force, keeping team morale high and everyone working hard. Linn-Mar is stocked with experience, including seniors in six of the top eight spots. Four were expected to play Wednesday and five Thursday at Gardner Golf Course.

“It’s been a group effort,” James said. “The seniors want to do special things this season and I think they know there isn’t a lot of time in the season.”

Kristen Harding was a first-team all-conference golfer last season. Tori Niemeyer, Megan Murphy and Isabel Schminke were second-teamers, while Claire Callahan earned honorable mentioned honors. James said Niemeyer and Callahan devoted a lot of time on their game in the winter, hitting in simulators every week.

The more telling piece about the Lions’ work ethic and camaraderie came after a recent practice. One player asked for swing help. As coaches assisted her, teammates elected to stay as well, working on various things together.

“Five of our top six stayed until 6:15 p.m. just to hit range balls or go to the putting greens,” James said. “I think it’s cool that the girls feed off each other.”

CRANDIC competition

The annual CRANDIC girls’ golf meet is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18. This season, the meet is slated to be held at Jones Golf Course in Cedar Rapids, starting at 9:30 a.m.

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The three Cedar Rapids public schools, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Iowa City High, Iowa City Liberty, Linn-Mar and Marion will compete. Cedar Rapids Kennedy is the two-time defending team champion, while Prairie was runner-up a year ago.

Current leader

CURRENT LEADER

With a very limited number of rounds recorded across the state, Washington (Iowa) owns the best nine-hole team average. The Demons shot 170 in their only round of the season, which is more than six shots better than Waukee’s average over two competitions.

Three-time state champion Sarah Nacos, of Washington (Iowa) has the second-best nine-hole score, carding 35. Gilbert’s Britta Snyder shot 34.

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

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