Bobcats settle for sixth at Joe August Invite

A challenging week continued to test the Bobcats Friday.

Much like its previous two outings, Marshalltown didn’t have its collective ‘A’ game on the course, but still found a way to compete through it.

Battling back from a shaky start, the Bobcats rallied to place sixth out of 10 teams with a 331 total at the Joe August Invitational at Elmwood Country Club.

Ankeny Centennial took the title with a score of 300, while Des Moines Roosevelt (307) edged Ottumwa by a stroke for second. Central Iowa Conference Northern Division rivals Mason City (327) and Ames (328) finished just ahead of the Bobcats.

Ottumwa’s Matthew Walker fired an even-par 70, holding off Aaron Wirt of Roosevelt by two strokes for medalist honors.

While Friday’s early struggles demonstrated the turbulent week MHS has gone through, Bobcat coach Lucas Johnson hopes the strong finish is a sign of things to come.

“We started off slow and battled the wind early on,” said MHS coach Lucas Johnson. “Today was a tough day for scoring, but I’m really pleased with how the guys persevered during that back nine.”

Michael Schrempf paced the ‘Cats with an 81 to claim 17th and earn the last spot for a banner. Schrempf, one of four Bobcats to improve their score after the turn, overcame a 43 through the first nine with a 38.

“I struggled a little bit during the beginning. I just couldn’t get anything to fall and I missed the green,” said Schrempf. “I just kind of grinded it out at the end to have a respectable score. It was a struggle at the beginning, I worked really hard for that 81.”

Connor Johnson added an 81 (39-42), while Brandin Chaloupek tallied an 84 (41-43) and Brant McKibben dropped nine strokes from his opening 47 for an 85.

“Brant shot one of his highest front nine totals that he’s had in a long time and he easily could have just not kept playing,” Coach Johnson said.

“He persevered a lot during that back nine and shot really well. Same thing with Michael – he shot higher than he normally shoots out here but he kept playing and kept battling. Connor played really well today. He had two triple-bogeys on two bad shots, but other than that, he was there for most of the day too.”

“My swing is starting to feel better,” said Connor Johnson. “It’s just trying to get confidence back with the putter and get some putts to fall when it’s blowing out like this. With the wind, it’s hard to keep putts on line.”

Sam Weatherman and Beau Ragland each turned in 89s for the Bobcats.

“I think we’re starting to see some flashes,” Coach Johnson said of his team’s recent improvements. “Whenever you’re struggling with your swing it doesn’t just magically come back, you have to battle back. I think we’re on the right path and guys started to see – especially during the back nine – that the work they’re putting in is starting to pay off. Hopefully we can build on that the rest of the way.”

Critical to that improvement will the Bobcats’ ability to limit the damage on bad holes.

“Our mentality around the course needs to be one where we take what the course gives us,” Coach Johnson said. “A bad shot sometimes can still turn into a triple bogey or a double bogey. Hopefully the rest of the way we can make those bogeys at worst so we don’t have those one or two blow-up holes that keep us out of the 70s.

“To be competitive we need to have four scores in the 70s. We have guys who are capable of that – it’s just a matter of keeping their head on their shoulders. I think the back nine today showed a lot of promise.”

MHS has another busy week ahead.

The Bobcats travel to the Valley Invite at Briarwood Golf Course in Ankeny Monday. Tee-off is set for 10 a.m. Marshalltown heads to the Southeast Polk Invitational Tuesday at Copper Creek Golf Course at 9 a.m., before hosting Ankeny Centennial Thursday at Elmwood at 3:30 p.m.

“We’re coming along a little bit,” said Schrempf. “We’re all just struggling with our swing, but we’ve all been working hard at practice to get our swings back to the way we want them. … We’re learning a little bit how to grind out a round where we’re not playing very well.

“We have lot of potential, but I think we’re trying to put a little too much pressure on ourselves. We just need to learn to work through a round and play our own game.”