Homeward bound

MHS boys golf earns first state team berth in 14 years

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • The Marshalltown boys golf team poses together after taking second in its district meet on Tuesday, earning the first team state qualification for the Bobcats since 2003. Pictured are, from left, head coach Lucas Johnson, Tate Carlson, Nate Vance, JD Pollard, Luke Appel, Keygan Hansen, Cole Davis, Mason Reid and assistant coach Michael Appel.

CEDAR FALLS — Tuesday’s 4A District Meet for the No. 1 Marshalltown boys golf team wasn’t a pretty one. The Bobcats faced swirling wind gusts all day, which made the daunting task of playing their longest course to date at the Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls even tougher.

Despite all the odds, the MHS boys did something that no Marshalltown team had done since 2003.

Qualify for the state tournament.

Tate Carlson led the Bobcats with his 1-over-par round of 73, good enough to place fourth individually, and Marshalltown finished the day in second with a team score of 307, with Cedar Falls winning on its home course with a 300.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and just the way they stuck together,” MHS head coach Lucas Johnson said after the meet. “They were down early on, I look at Tate Carlson and his round was spectacular, especially with today’s wind. He was hanging around par pretty much all day, he didn’t roll in a ton of birdies, but he was hitting it well off the tee and putting himself in good positions and staying below the hole like we talked about.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown juinor JD Pollard hits a shot out of the bunker onto the fourth green at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course during Tuesday’s Class 4A District Tournament. The Bobcats finished second on the day, earning a team state qualification for the first time since 2003.

Carlson was the most consistent golfer throughout the round, as his coach said, and after receiving his fourth-place medal he said battling through the tough conditions on Tuesday came down to making sure his shots were in the right spots.

“I was just trying to hit little knock downs and little low shots in there, and I just had to grind through all the conditions,” Carlson said.

While Carlson was the top finisher, four other Bobcats finished with rounds under 80 to secure the state qualification. Senior Nate Vance was the next-best finisher for Marshalltown with a 77, and he earned that score by finishing at 3-under for his last four holes.

“I walked the last four holes with Nate, and that was some of the most spectacular golf I’ve ever seen a high school kid play,” Johnson said. “He goes birdie on 13 and hits a tremendous five-wood over the trees and catches the green then rolls in a bomb for eagle on 14. With the way that he started, to finish that way shows tremendous resilience and character from him.”

As Johnson alluded to, Vance didn’t have a hot start to his day, shooting a 4-over 40 on the front nine. He recovered well though to finish out with his 5-over total of 77 and earn a second-straight trip to the state tournament.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Tate Carlson rolls in a putt on the 12th green for par in Tuesday’s Class 4A District Tournament in Cedar Falls. Carlson was the top Bobcat finisher, shooting a 1-over-par 73 and taking fourth individually.

“Midway through the round we all needed to think about where we were going to be because we were not playing the golf we wanted to be,” Vance said. “I think we were a little nervous on the greens, everybody I talked to said we didn’t putt the way we needed to putt.”

As for how he felt handling the windy conditions, Vance said it wasn’t exactly his ideal choice for playing weather but that kind of adversity has a way of making the cream rise to the top.

“It was difficult conditions, but usually when the conditions are difficult the better golfers set themselves apart,” he said.

Junior JD Pollard and sophomore Cole Davis finished off the Bobcat scoring with rounds of 78 and 79 respectively. Though that wasn’t the best performance from either golfer, Johnson said it was important that they finish strong the way they did.

“We got two solid rounds finish it all off, we talked early on today that if we had four rounds under 80 that would probably be pretty good, and JD hung in there,” Johnson said. “He was right at 3- or 4-over par for most of the round then ran into one tough hole that kind of brought him back but I think he bounced back with a birdie too.


“Cole had a couple of rough holes in there and he was battling going left,” Johnson continued. “He told me ‘I haven’t had a case of the lefts that bad for a while,’ but he is the No. 1 player statistically in the state for a reason. He can grind out those kind of rounds and I was happy with the way that he kept it together because those guys knew pretty early in the round that they were going to be counters, and that adds a little bit of pressure.”

Seniors Luke Appel and Keygan Hansen were both the non-scoring rounds for Marshalltown with an 86 and 85 respectively.

Vance said the way the team continued to fight through adversity was great to see, especially after falling just short last season at the district meet, and now they have a chance to win a state title at Elmwood Country Club, their home course.

“I think some of the guys battled back, Tate had a great round and we needed that one solid round,” Vance said. “That ended up being a huge 73 for us. This was a step, we thought we were going to be able to win this fairly easy, and we didn’t, but we slid by just enough and now we have Friday and Saturday on our home course and that’s where we need to be.”

The way the team ended last season, falling just shy of a team qualification by two strokes, was on the minds of both the athletes and coaches throughout the day on Tuesday, and Johnson said that experience actually helped push his guys over the edge.


“On district day, we experienced it last year, it’s a grind. I think last year’s experience definitely helped today because they knew that feeling,” Johnson said. “Our front nine wasn’t pretty, but when we got to the back nine they kept grinding because they knew what the last few holes could be.”

Now the Bobcats set their eyes on the ultimate prize, a state title won on their home course. Vance said the big goal of the season has been accomplished in just getting to state, but the team definitely isn’t satisfied yet.

“Obviously it’s a huge goal to make it to state, and now our goal is to win state,” he said. “Being at Elmwood, we have the talent definitely to do it. Last year I made it but we didn’t make it as a team, so I anticipate it to be much more fun this year.”

Johnson said what he is most looking forward to is how his guys perform over the two-day state tournament this weekend at home. He said having that familiarity with the course already gives his guys an advantage.

“Sometimes when you go to a state tournament it feels different because the stage is different, but this is our home,” he said. “This is where we hang up, we are welcoming 11 other teams to our home and we will enjoy the experience.”


The teams Marshalltown will face off against starting Friday at 10:30 a.m. are Cedar Rapids Xavier, Cedar Rapids Washington, Dubuque Wahlert, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Johnston, Dowling Catholic, Ankeny Centennial, Ames, Waukee and Indianola.

Ultimately, Johnson said he couldn’t be prouder of how his Bobcats have performed all season, especially given the pressures and expectations they’ve faced, and he’s ready to finish things off on a high note at home.

“I am just really happy for our guys, obviously I can’t wait to get to Elmwood on Friday,” he said. “That’s going to be a lot of fun for our seniors especially, to be able to go out that way at home regardless of how it turns out. It will be a special end to the season and we like our chances at Elmwood.”

Class 4A District Meet

At Cedar Falls

Pheasant Ridge Golf Course, par 72

Team Standings — 1. Cedar Falls 300, 2. Marshalltown 307, 3. Cedar Rapids Prairie 315, 4. Linn-Mar 316, 5. Dubuque Senior 319, 6. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 321, 7. Dubuque Hempstead 326, 8. Western Dubuque 329, 9. Iowa City West 333, 10. Iowa City High 352, 11. Waterloo West 353, 12. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 355, 13. Iowa City Liberty 375, 14. Waterloo West 441.

Individual (top 10) — 1. Ben Bermel, CF, 71; 2. Joe Dean, CF, 72; 3. Joey Kaesbauer, DH, 72; 4. Tate Carlson, MHS, 73; 5. Brock Barnhart, CRK, 74; 6. Ian Johnston, CRP, 75; 7. Trevor Heinen, CF, 76; 8. Sam Lockhart, CRP, 76; 9. Kyle Arthofer, DH, 77; 10. Nate Vance, MHS, 77.

CEDAR FALLS (300) — Bermel 71, Dean 72, Heinen 76, Brandon Nelson 81, Kevin Yang 82, Jack Moody 85.

MARSHALLTOWN (307) — Carlson 73, Vance 77, JD Pollard 78, Cole Davis 79, Keygan Hansen 85, Luke Appel 86.

CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE (315) — Johnston 75, Lockhart 76, Griff Clark 82, Jared Tjelmeland 82, Zak Zahner 84, Jeremy Jennissen 89.

LINN-MAR (316) — Zach Armstrong 78, Drew Brandel 79, Ben Greif 79, Dillon Burr 80, Cole Yearling 83, Carter Fredrickson 84.

DUBUQUE SENIOR (319) — Carsen Bellis 78, Zach Obbink 80, Alec Chandlee 80, Jack Vandermillen 81, Trevor Viohl 87, Cameron Davis 88.

CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY (321) — Barnhart 74, Luke Martin 81, Conrado Chozas-Martinez 82, Jonah Beman 84, Logan McAreavy 85, Tyler Blattner 91.

DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD (326) — Kaesbauer 72, Arthover 77, Kyler VandenBerge 87, Joe Send 90, Jared Boleyn 93, Nick Kaesbauer 96.

WESTERN DUBUQUE (329) — Jax Stelzer 80, Tate Herbst 81, Wyatt Skirtch 82, Mike Roth 86, Drew Daly 89, Andrew Welty 91.

IOWA CITY WEST (333) — Ryan Cooper 80, Kyle Spence 81, Zach Starman 84, Ben Amelon 88, Braden Houston 96, Kirk Caleb 105.

IOWA CITY HIGH (352) — Lucas Ribble 84, Winston Lui 88, Campbell Johnson 90, Mason Shawver 90, Will McIntire 91, Luke Edwards 91.

WATERLOO WEST (353) — Kobe Smith 85, Cole Earnest 86, Luke Earnest 91, Max Paxton 91, Brady Buckley 92, Tyler Jolley 99.

CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON (355) — Bryce Abbasi 88, Evan Griffin 88, Spencer Smith 87, Austin Schmitz 92, Sam Staley 94, Lucas Brown 96.

IOWA CITY LIBERTY (375) — Connor Roach 92, Bo Gryp 92, Keian Secrist 95, AJ Meyer 96, Shane Alberts 96, Cody Schroeder 96.

WATERLOO EAST (441) — Braeden McNamara 100, Seth Aspensen 111, Dylan Andreassen 114, Brennen Davis 116, Noel Guzman 121.