CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Washington possesses all of the components for a strong team.
Connor Neighbors is one of the best golfers in Class 4A and joins Ben Skogman as seniors in the starting lineup. Junior Whit Haefner adds experience. Freshman Nile Petersen and sophomore Kyle Neighbors are young scorers for the squad that includes another sophomore in Joseph Tauber.
The makeup has been a recent luxury for the Warriors.
“We’ve been blessed this way for a few years now,” said Washington Coach Dennis Goettel, noting 42 golfers are out this fall. “It’s something to have a cross-section like that. … It’s a fun situation.”
Washington is off to a solid start, placing second at Monday’s Linn-Mar Invitational and opening with a fourth-place finish at the tough Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet last Thursday. The Warriors are fifth in 4A with a combined adjusted average of 157.25 and sixth in the state with a 314.5 18-hole team average.
The runner-up finish to Cedar Falls Monday at Hunters Ridge Golf Course provided a little boost. The Warriors shot 307, beating teams like defending state champion Marshalltown and Waukee.
“We were thrilled with Monday at Linn-Mar,” Goettel said. “It was pretty good shooting by our guys. It got them and me excited. I don’t think we’ve shot our best yet, but we’ll see. You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.”
Connor Neighbors remains a pillar in the Warriors’ lineup. The returning MVC Valley Player of the Year and two-time top-10 state finisher leads the way with a 72.0 18-hole average, which ranks fifth in the state. He was third Monday and was the runner-up medalist at the MVC Super Meet, carding 72 at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls last Thursday.
Connor Neighbors serves as a co-captain with Skogman, who is getting back into the swing of things after an appearance in the 4A state baseball finals less than three weeks ago.
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“They provide great leadership,” Goettel said of the senior duo. “They are just good guys.”
Petersen has been a pleasant addition. The incoming freshman was the only one in his grade to move up and play in the open division of the 2018 Rotary Pribyl. He placed fifth and has scored in both meets for Washington, shooting 78 each round.
Goettel praised Petersen, comparing his work ethic at this age to Connor Neighbors and former Washington standout and current Iowa State player Frank Lindwall when they were freshmen. Goettel praised the entire team for their effort, which rarely ends when practice does.
“It’s great to have kids who devote so much time to playing and practice,” Goettel said. “I’ve been blessed to have kids, who will put in a practice with us and will still go play more. I think the entire six really do love the game and are willing to put in the extra time.
“They’re a great bunch of kids. They are very coachable. They listen well and pretty determined.”
BARNHART’S AVERAGE IS AREA’S BEST
Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Brock Barnhart leads Class 4A Gazette-area golfers in the first week of the fall season. The Cougars’ junior is tied for second in 4A with a 35.55 combined adjusted average. Barnhart also ranks tied for third with a 71.50 18-hole average after two events, including a low score of 70, which is fourth in the state.
Barnhart shot 2-under 70, earning runner-up medalist honors at the Linn-Mar Invitational, following the Iowa State commit’s fourth-place finish at the MVC Super Meet last Thursday at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course in Cedar Falls.
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