Vance, Bobcats win 4A boys’ state golf titles
After 36 holes of play in the Iowa High School Boys State Golf Tournament finished up on Saturday, there was a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard at Elmwood Country Club.
Cole Davis and Nate Vance from Marshalltown and Ben Krapfl and Jake Marvelli from Indianola each finished off the two days of play at a 2-over-par 142, meaning a sudden-death playoff was in order.
All four boys trudged back out in the rain and blowing wind to the par-4 18th hole, but it would only take two shots to determine the state champion.
Vance hit a blistering drive off the 18th tee box, leaving him a manageable putt for eagle, and after watching all three of his competitors set themselves up for birdie on their second shots, Vance stepped up and sunk the eagle putt to win the fifth individual state golf title in MHS history.
“I knew when I hit it, it was going to be a good shot,” Vance said of his drive to start the playoff. “I didn’t know it was going to be that close, to be honest, I couldn’t see it land but I got the clap and thought I maybe just caught the green and set up with a decent two-putt and we would move on to the next hole at least.
“I get up there and I’ve had a similar putt before that didn’t break as much, so I go look at it and think ‘I don’t think this is going to break at all.’ So I played it dead-middleish and then it just hit me. With the crowd going crazy, it was just an outstanding moment. It was a dream come true.”
Only seconds after sinking the putt to win the tournament, Vance was mobbed by Davis, who was overjoyed at the senior’s win. Before heading out to play, the two Bobcat golfers were already armed with the knowledge that they had won the team title with a two-day score of 582, so Davis said once he saw Vance secure the individual title he just let it all out.
“I am so proud of the team, proud of Nate, proud of myself. It’s been a great season and I am just glad that Nate got the state title and we got the team,” Davis said.
Davis could have taken a moment to feel sorry about not winning the individual title himself, but the thought never crossed his mind. MHS head coach Lucas Johnson said watching his senior and sophomore standouts share that moment on the green was almost more special than Vance actually hitting the putt.
“As a coach, that’s the perfect example of the selflessness and teamwork and rooting for your fellow Bobcat that I want to see,” Johnson said. “That couldn’t have made me prouder. Am I ecstatic about Nate’s putt? 100 percent. That was the coolest thing I have ever seen as a coach and I don’t know if I’ll ever see anything that cool again, but from a team reaction, the way that Cole went up and flew into him, that was incredible. That’s what you want as a coach, you want to see guys rooting for each other, and that’s the perfect reaction from him.”
While Vance and Davis had to battle it out individually for the top spot, the way the Bobcats golfed as a whole left no question as to who the team champion would be.
The first hour of play on day two of the 4A state tournament actually saw the sun peak through, but as the day wore on the soggy, rainy conditions from Friday’s round returned, accompanied with a blistering wind.
Marshalltown paid those conditions no mind, however, as the Bobcats duplicated their round-one score of 291 for a second day, with Vance shooting a 71, Davis and Luke Appel a 73, and Tate Carlson rebounding from his worst round at Elmwood this season on Friday to shoot a 74 and round out the MHS scoring.
That team score of 291 was 14 strokes lower than any other round on the day, solidifying the fourth Bobcat team state title. Johnston took second, falling back 16 strokes to finish with a 598 after starting the day just one shot out of the lead.
Even Marshalltown’s two non-counting scores were relatively good, with Mason Reid tossing in a 76 and JD Pollard shooting a 79. Johnson said seeing all his guys perform when needed the most just showed the strength the team possessed all season.
“We’ve talked all year about our depth and how any given day a kid can step up, but everybody stepped up today” he said. “To have six scores in the 70s on a day like today is incredible, it shows that these guys are champion golfers. They are truly deserving of the trophy, they showed it all year long but they still had to come out and perform.”
Vance agreed with his coach, saying all of the Bobcats wanted to show what they could do on their home course to close things out.
“We played fantastic today. Cole had a good round, Tate Carlson — after coming out with an 83 — shoots a 74,” Vance said. “He obviously doesn’t have his best stuff right now, but that’s when you show how you are as a person. Luke with a 73, outstanding round by him. He should be so proud of himself and we are all really proud of him too. Marshalltown came to play today, and that’s what we needed to do. It was a great note to end on.”
Appel specifically had one of his best performances of his MHS golfing career over the two days, shooting a 150 and ending on the toughest day with a 73. Johnson said it was great to see the tall senior show out when the team needed him most at state.
“Luke was phenomenal today, he saved the round of his life for the biggest day of golf that he’s ever played in his live, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way that he brought it today,” he said.
While waiting around to take pictures with the newly-acquired trophy, Appel said he was in the zone all weekend because he knew this was his last chance to accomplish something special on the course.
“It’s honestly just amazing, we were ranked No. 1 all year so it was expected, but actually having it turn out is amazing,” he said. “Playing in this weather, it was just horrific and a grind. Every shot you had to hit and you don’t know what the wind is going to do to it. I just was locked in this weekend thinking it was the last two rounds I will ever play of competitive golf. That’s what drove me all weekend, I said ‘you just have to put it all out there.'”
As for Carlson’s nine-swing turnaround, Johnson said they had a talk after his disappointing day one that obviously got the senior back on track.
“From the way that he was feeling last night at this time to the way that he’s feeling right now, it’s 180 degrees,” Johnson said. “I am super proud of the way Tate fought back and I talked to him about last night about how he’s as good a player on the team as anybody, and he brought it today. We needed that score from him today and he brought it.”
Pretty much all of this Bobcats team was the same faces that fell just short of a team state appearance in 2016. Vance, who did qualify individually for the state title last year and finished tied for 24th, said that pain from last season just makes this title all the more sweet.
“I think this tastes a little bit better knowing that last year we didn’t make it,” he said. “It’s one thing to have the ability to be number one ranked in the state and say you are the best in the state, and it’s another thing to actually go out and win a state title.”
Vance and the four seniors on this varsity squad — Appel, Carlson and Keygan Hansen — were integral in rebuilding the legend that used to be Bobcats golf. Johnson said all of the seniors from this squad won’t be easy to replace, but at least they sent the guys out on the best note possible.
“Nate’s a special kid and I am going to miss him as a competitor because he is someone that you are fortunate to coach kids like that,” Johnson said. “I am going to miss this group of seniors but I can’t imagine a better way to send them out.”
Now that the 2017 season is over and Marshalltown has its first individual title since Drew Westberg in 2000 and its first team title since 2002, the question remains “what’s next for Bobcats golf?”
Well, MHS returns three varsity players from the title run — including state runner-up and No. 1 ranked golfer Davis — and Johnson said he doesn’t see the team dropping off moving forward.
“Now that the guys have tasted it and know what it takes to get to this point, that’s something we can hopefully build on,” Johnson said. “We are going to enjoy today a lot though before we start talking about that.”
Iowa High School Boys State Golf Tournament
Class 4A Fall Golf
Elmwood Country Club, par 70
Team Standings — 1. Marshalltown 291-291–582, 2. Johnston 292-306–598, 3. Indianola 297-306–603, 4. Waukee 298-306–604, 5. Dowling Catholic 304-305–609, 6. Ames 298-312–610, 7. Cedar Falls 301-311–612, 8. Cedar Rapids Xavier 308-306–614, 9. Cedar Rapids Washington 311-305–616, 10. Cedar Rapids Prairie 320-307–627, 11. Ankeny Centennial 316-329–645, 12. Dubuque Wahlert 319-330–649.
Individual (top 10) — 1. Nate Vance, MHS, 71-71–142; 2. (tie) Cole Davis, MHS, 69-73–142; Benjamin Krapfl, IND, 71-71–142; Jake Marvelli, IND, 70-72–142; 5. (tie) Ben Bermel, CF, 68-75–143; Brock Barnhart, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 73-70–143; 7. Connor Neighbors, CRW, 72-72–144; 8. (tie) Caleb Peters, JHN, 71-74–145; Jack Hurley, DC, 74-71–145; 10. (tie) Connor Van Weelden, AMES, 72-74–146; Brad Karpick, CRX, 75-71–146.
MARSHALLTOWN (582) — Vance 142, Davis 142, Luke Appel 150, JD Pollard 153, Tate Carlson 157, Keygan Hansen 80-NS, Mason Reid NS-76.
JOHNSTON (598) — Peters 145, Nick Pittman 149, Nathan Petrak 151, Akansh Gupta 158, Brady Green 158, Jarred Bowser 163.
INDIANOLA (603) — Krapfl 142, Marvelli 142, Grady Haynes 157, Jacob McGinnis 170, Jake Trembly 171, Jackson Bishop 239.
WAUKEE (604) — Griffin Parker 152, Bennett Pedersen 153, Jackson Starr 153, Nathan Petsche 153, Ben Meyer 154, Michael Vicente 155.
DOWLING CATHOLIC (609) — Hurley 145, Ben Freking 151, Nick Wegman 156, Parker Ardary 157, Jake Calhoun 159, Edward Bening 159.
AMES (610) — Van Weelden 146, Sam Balsley 153, Ryan Cole 156, Ben Stewart 157, Carter Clayberg 165, Nate Espeset 171.
CEDAR FALLS (612) — Bermel 143, Trevor Heinen 155, Joe Dean 156, Brandon Nelson 160, Kevin Yang 165, Jack Moody 181.
CR XAVIER (614) — Karpick 146, Nicholas Recker 152, Ryan Keating 159, Matthew Schmit 162, Matt Neumeyer 78-NS, Michael Glavan NS-86, Dan Bailey 165.
CR WASHINGTON (616) — Neighbors 144, Alex Slattery 148, Whitcomb Haefner 160, Kyle Neighbors 166, Ben Skogman 169, Will Sturms 189.
CR PRAIRIE (627) — Ian Johnston 148, Griff Clark 156, Sam Lockhart 161, Jared Tjelmeland 165, Jeremy Jennissen 169, Zak Zahner 185.
ANKENY CENTENIAL (645) — Christopher McAleer 158, Drake Ellgren 161, Eric Ossian 164, Rusty Rydin 166, Matthew Scharingson 167, Kaleb Faas 171.
DUBUQUE WAHLERT (649) — Sam Ambrosy 158, Jack Doyle 163, Benjamin Vaassen 166, Mitch Walz 168, Craig Collins 171, Matt Becker 180.
INDIVIDUALS — Barnhart, CRK, 143; Jackson Thompson, Sioux City Heelan, 153; Jack Roemer, Pleasant Valley, 155; Burke Pitz, Des Moines Roosevelt, 156; Steven Gottwald, Bettendorf, 158; Joey Kaesbauer, Dubuque Hempstead, 159; Carson Caylor, Valley; Jeremy Love, Lewis Central, 160; Samuel Jacobs, Valley, 164; Alec Henrich, Burlington, 164.
Top of the charts
Marshalltown, St. Mary’s 1958
Marshalltown 1998, 2000, 2002, 2017
Ron Hildebrand *1965
Mark Rohde *1972
Jason Rockhold 1991
Drew Westberg 2000
Nate Vance *2017
* — won in a playoff