The postseason picture is beginning to come into focus for area golf teams.
Their path to the state tournament is set.
Iowa High School Athletic Association has released Class 4A district hosts and assignments set for Oct. 5. Mississippi Valley Conference teams will compete in three of the four state qualifiers with the top three teams advancing.
Cedar Rapids Xavier will host a district at Elmcrest Country Club, marking the fourth qualifying meet the Saints have held at the course and first since 2017. The Saints will compete in a 14-team field that includes Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Iowa City High and Iowa City West.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play at Elmcrest,” Xavier Coach Tim O’Brien said. “If a person looks at the four districts ours will be a challenging one because of the number of teams in the top of the state.”
Xavier is attempting to earn its fourth straight state tournament berth, but will be vying for a limited number of berths that could be nabbed by annual power Cedar Falls, MVC Valley leader Kennedy, Prairie or Washington.
“If you look on paper, we have a really tough district,” O’Brien said. “If you play well, it will take care of itself. It’s all about playing well on that day.”
Interestingly, senior Matthew Schmit is trying to become the first Xavier golfer to compete in four 4A state tournaments.
“It would be incredible,” O’Brien said. “I just hope things keep going smooth. It would be amazing.”
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Linn-Mar and Western Dubuque will travel to a district hosted by Pleasant Valley at Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf. The Lions hosted last season and head coach Chris James doesn’t mind hitting the road for the postseason.
“We don’t worry about the other teams because we can only do what we can,” James said. “From my perspective, I’m OK with us getting out of town. It might limit some distractions for us and we can focus on the golf aspect. Really, we can go in there with the mindset that we have nothing to lose.”
Iowa City Liberty heads to Willow Creek Golf Course for a district hosted by West Des Moines Valley.
No coach, no problem for Linn-Mar
With the first day of school Monday, Linn-Mar Coach Chris James and his staff were unable to accompany the team for the MVC Mississippi divisional meet at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls.
Instead, they relied on assistant sophomore basketball coach Brad Kester to help transport the team. The Lions still managed a runner-up finish, shooting 308 and coming in just one stroke back of the host Tigers.
“He (Brad) didn’t really realize he was coaching and thought one of us would meet him up there later,” James said. “He didn’t do much in terms of coaching. It sounds like he didn’t have to do too much.
“I hated missing it. It’s just how it had to be.”
James had informed the team of the situation Saturday, during a practice round at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, which is the site for next month’s state tournament. The dilemma was easier to handle because of the experienced group in the lineup.
The Lions had a strong day overall with three of the top 10 best scores. Defending state champion Dillon Burr claimed medalist honors with a 2-under par 70. Drew Muilenburg tied for seventh with 76 and Carter Vieth tied for 10th with 78.
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“From what I heard the guys played well, talking to them the last couple days,” James said. “They were pleased but they felt they still left a few out there.”
Burr will take a three-stroke lead into the second and final round of divisional play thanks to his play on the par-3 holes. The Lion senior carded two birdies on the four par-3 holes and was the lone golfer in the field to come in under par on any of them. He parred the other two, helping him shoot 34 on the front and even par on the back.
“That is due to his iron play,” James said. “He’s hitting the ball very well right now.”
The defending Class 4A state champion is trying to earn his second straight MVC divisional Player of the Year honor.
MVC Mississippi play concludes Sept. 28 at Thunder Hills Golf Club in Peosta. MVC Valley will play its second round the same day at The Meadows Golf Club in Dubuque.
Cedar Rapids Washington duo Nile Petersen and Kyle Neighbors posted a mirror-like 75, tying for third with Dubuque Wahlert’s Ben Vaassen at the MVC Mississippi divisional Monday. The Warriors were third in the team standings with 315.
Neighbors and Petersen were first-team all-MVC Mississippi performers last season.
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