CEDAR FALLS — Unfinished business may be more than just a cliché for golfers entering the upcoming fall season.
A rain-shortened 2018 state tournament left the boys from Cedar Falls with mixed emotions. Led by a talented class of seniors in Ben Bermel, Trevor Heinen and Joe Dean, the Tigers recorded their program’s best team finish in school history with a fourth-place effort in what became a one-day event.
Cedar Falls entered state with 4A’s lowest scoring average.
“Having the state tournament shortened to one day, I think adds to the excitement and they’re just ready to get going because they know the schedule we have,” Cedar Falls coach Kenton Engels said.
While the Tigers graduated an accomplished trio of seniors, they return Jack Moody, Luke Meyer and Kevin Yang as regulars from last season’s varsity roster. Moody is entering his senior year after finishing tied for 27th with a score of 76 at last year’s Class 4A state tournament. Juniors Meyer, Yang and Ethan Le also have experience from a season ago.
“Now they’ve seen that we can have success and they know what it takes to be that successful,” Engels said. “I think they’re eager to repeat that, and to pass that along to the younger guys who are just starting.”
Cedar Falls’ golfers are coming off a successful summer of junior competition in which they participated in a two-day event at the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City that will serve as this fall’s state venue. Five golfers from Cedar Falls also scored in the 70s during a tournament at Otter Creek in Ankeny.
Max Tjoa, Owen Sawyer and Jordan Nelson are among a tournament-tested corps of incoming freshmen who could help the Tigers remain competitive.
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“They have a lot of tournament experience for being freshmen,” Engels said. “It wasn’t that long ago that freshmen would have very little competitive golf experience. Now they definitely have more than I can remember having when I was coming up.”
Nearing the Aug. 15 season opener against a field of Mississippi Valley Conference teams at St. Andrews, Cedar Falls is ready to raise some eyebrows.
“It’s an interesting time,” Engels said. “I think a lot of teams in our conference are thinking that we lost those three guys (Bermel, Heinen, Dean). I think people will be surprised that we have a lot of talent again.”
Mitch Fordyce returns for his junior season after leading the Wahawks with the team’s lowest 18-hole average a season ago. Seniors Brady Buckley and Max Paxton return as letterwinners alongside juniors Lucas Fordyce, Jaxon Schmidt and sophomore Blake Buckley.
The Trojans graduated their top two players from a season ago. Juniors Jacob Drahos and Preston Peters received experience as sophomores last fall.