Dragons a step ahead of MHS in season-opening dual

Even though Marshalltown lost its dual meet against Johnston on Friday and the top two Bobcat golfers stuggled on the home course at American Legion Golf Course, head coach Lucas Johnson isn’t reading too much into the results either way, and is focusing on the positives that came from the season-opening meet.

MHS lost to a Johnston team that Johnson called one of the top teams in the state by 12 strokes, 300-312.

“First meet of the year, looking to see how the boys respond in a true competitive environment,” Johnson said. “From a first meet perspective, I look at the scores we got out of Luke Appel, Brant McKibben and J.D. Pollard and say they played some of the best golf they’ve played so far this season.

“One thing we always talk about is having four scores in the 70s, and we got that.”

Appel, a sophomore, led the way shooting the best score for the Bobcats with a 76. Appel had pars on the second, fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth holes to shoot a 39 on the front nine, the only Bobcat to shoot under 40 through nine holes. He started the back nine strong with a birdie on 10, parred 11 and birdied 12 before having bogeys on 13 and 17, as well as a double on 16 to shoot a 37.

“Luke especially played well on the back,” Johnson said. “That’s his career low in varsity competition. I’m really pleased with the way he played. I know he was happy coming off the course.”

Senior McKibben was second on the team with a 78, shooting 40 on the front nine with pars on 2, 6, 8 and 9. Like Appel, McKibben started the back nine with a birdie on 10, but had a bogeys on 12 and 18 with a double on 15 to card a 38 on the back nine.

“He played a nice round, too,” Johnson said. “Especially a good back nine shooting a 38.”

Sophomore Nate Vance and freshman Pollard rounded out the top four for the Bobcats with a 79 each. Vance started the day off steady with pars on the first three holes before bogeys on 4, 5 and 7, and a double on 6. He finished the first nine holes with a birdie on 8 and par on 9. Vance had a birdie on 15, but had doubles on 11 and 16, posting a 39 on the final nine holes.

Pollard struggled on the front nine, hitting bogeys on 2, 4, 5, and 6 with a double on 3. He birdied 7, and parred the final two front holes to post a 40. Parring 10 through 13, Pollard doubled on 14, and bogeyed 17 and 18 to finish 39 on the back nine.

Seniors Stefan Peng and Sam Weatherman shot an 81 and 83 respectively. Weatherman parred the first four holes before he struggled to doubles on 5 and 6 that he said stuck with him the rest of the day. He also had a doubles on 8, 12 and 15. Weatherman got into some sand trouble on 15, have to take three tries to get out of the trap.

“Kind of a rough start to the season I guess,” Weatherman said. “I need to play a lot smarter off the tee, try to find the fairway, and then hit it to the middle of the green.”

Weatherman and Vance played against Johnston as the Bobcat’s top duo.

“Our top two guys struggled a little bit today,” Johnson said. “Sam got off to a really nice start. Then he ran into some trouble with his driver. He was snap-hooking it. You can’t miss left on the front nine out here, and he went left into the junk on five and six both. He struggled to get it back, but I know he’ll bounce back. He’s a senior. He’s a veteran.

“Same thing for Nate. A 79 is not a bad score for Nate, but this is his home course. He is definitely capable of better.”

The Bobcats will be back on the links at 10 a.m. on Monday in their first invitational of the year against nine CIML teams in Indianola.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys play on neutral courses,” Johnson said. “I look forward to seeing how they translate their games to a place they don’t usually see.”