Men’s golf team takes third place at state

This year’s men’s golf uniform looked slightly different from previous years, with each team member sporting a face mask in addition to their usual khakis and polos. Players and coaches alike pushed through the season and practiced resilience in the face of adversity due to the worldwide pandemic. After a record breaking season, the men’s golf team finished third at State, higher than any previous team from men’s gold at Cedar Falls.

“The season was fantastic,” head coach Kenton Engels said. “We captured our fourth straight district title and our fourth straight conference title. We set two team records; one was lowest score overall and another was lowest score at a particular meet. We went on to finish third overall as a team in the state, which is the best finish in school history. Individually I had three All State golfers. Most importantly, we had fun and improved.” 

The Iowa High School Athletic Association came forward with new regulations aimed at decreasing the spread of COVID while also allowing the season to continue somewhat normally. Some of these practices included shortening award ceremonies, practicing social distancing and having hitting bays set up 10 feet between each player. 

Team member and junior Sam Jermier was a varsity player and faced injuries that made the season more difficult than usual. “A big obstacle I encountered was injuring my wrist and not being able to receive treatment and still play, so I decided to play through it and receive treatment in the off season. Another one I encountered was a slump mid-season that affected my mental toughness and confidence,” Jermier said. “I haven’t overcome my wrist obstacle yet, as I’m still receiving treatment, but I overcame my slump by playing a lot and practicing really hard after designated practice.”

Sophomore Jordan Nelson faced a similar challenge to Jermier, facing a devastating injury right before the season kicked off. “My major obstacle I faced was I broke my hand back in June,” Nelson said. “But I got my confidence back and was able to put that behind me.” 

The varsity team practiced every day after school, focused on reinforcing positive muscle memory and honing in on their skills. “Typically, a practice is focused on the scoring areas of the game, so putting and chipping,” Engels said.  Golfers on the team are so intent on winning that they will stay after practice to work on full swing mechanics as well as go play. Time at practice is spent where the shots count the most..”

The hard work paid off, with the team doing better than ever before. Sophomore Owen Sawyer was a key player for the team, putting in work both on and off the green. “I would say my favorite memory would be State. Hanging out with the guys during the night in the hotel rooms was really fun. Even though we didn’t win, we got third, which I believe is the best in school history, so it was really fun to be a part of that team,” Sawyer said. “We also set a few new and even broke our own school records. I individually got First team All State, so it was great to see my work in the off-season pay off.”

While both coaches and players are looking forward to next season, they will have to say goodbye to a few seniors who are important players. “Each year the seniors on the team set the tone,” Engels said. “I will always feel sad but grateful when seniors leave. It’s sad to not get to compete with them anymore but grateful that they spent their time and left their own mark on the program and the younger players.”

As far as the future, Sawyer said he is sad to see the seniors go too, but is excited to grow with his teammates. “Next year I’m looking forward to seeing how good we can be. Maxwell Tjoa, Jack Beecher and I are all starting to go lift and workout together for next season, so it will be fun to see how much better we get. Also, after coming up short at State the last two years were kind of a bummer, so I’m excited to work at it and hopefully win the championship next fall.”

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