TREYNOR, Iowa — This could be the year.
Making some noise at the Class 1-A state meet is a real possibility for the Treynor boys golf team.
After claiming their fourth straight Western Iowa Conference championship Wednesday, the Cardinals have won three of their four tournaments and are 8-0 in duals. Treynor is No. 1 in the latest Iowa High School Golf Coaches Association rankings.
The Cardinals had to deal with some wet and muggy elements to earn Wednesday’s title, but coach Todd Gordon said the experience helped make his team better.
“We just kind of had to deal with some tough conditions where we didn’t get any rolls,” Gordon said. “Mentally, we hung in there and were good enough when we didn’t necessarily have our best games.”
In Gordon’s seven years at the school, Treynor’s best finish at state was second place in 2009. But with a senior-heavy lineup experienced in competitive golf, the coach thinks this team has the potential to make history.
“I’ve compared them a lot to that state runner-up team because they’ve been a tight-knit group and they’ve had more of a team feel to them,” Gordon said. “We just have to keep that going here.”
Leading the Cardinals’ contingent is senior and three-time state qualifier Brad Bailey, ranked fifth in Class 1-A with an average nine-hole score of 39.5. The University of Nebraska at Kearney recruit is joined in the regular lineup by seniors Cole Chapin (ranked 11th), Chris Zimmerman (No. 26) and Nick Carolus (No. 33).
Gordon is especially fond of his team’s athletic background. Chapin and Zimmerman are multi-sport standouts. Carolus also wrestles. All of it pays off with a sport as mentally taxing as golf.
“It’s just a combination of being competitive and being in those situations,” Gordon said. “Golf is so much different than anyplace else because the other sports can be physical. If you’re better physically, you can muscle your way through that. This is so much more mental. It’s a whole different animal.”
Bailey has spent a good portion of his prep career trying to fine-tune his game. He earned his second straight WIC individual title Wednesday.
When he’s not competing with Treynor in the spring, much of his time is spent at the Omaha Country Club. After his sophomore year, he was one of nine individuals from Iowa and Nebraska chosen to take part in a program headed by Tom Sieckmann, OCC’s director of golf instruction.
“That’s really helped progress my game the most,” Bailey said. “Each year, I’ve noticed that I’ve shot two strokes better per nine holes. Going into this year, I felt like I really had a shot at competing at the state (meet), maybe winning a state championship, either as a team or individually. I just want to go in there and be confident.”
Bailey has improved his showing every year at state. He finished 47th in 2009, shooting a two-round, 18-hole 184. In 2010, he finished 30th with a 172 and last year he was 12th with a 164.
As the years passed, Bailey has matured along with his game. He knows state success hinges not only on good play but also on staying mentally sharp on the course.
“When you’re walking, you’re thinking about your shot the whole time you walk,” he said. “If you have a bad shot, you’ve got to just focus on the task at hand. I always think about my next shot and where I want to place it.”
The rest of the Cardinals have proven that they are capable of low scores, too. If the team continues to do that, the payoff could be the ultimate postseason prize.
“I really like our team this year,” Bailey said. “We have a good attitude, we’re very mature. I think most of the time we’re playing pretty well. Hopefully, we can make it to state.”
WIC tournament boys scoring: Treynor 351, Audubon 359, Underwood 373, Griswold 396, Tri-Center 407, Riverside 408, A-H-S-T 415, Missouri Valley 419.
Individual medalists: 1, Brad Bailey, Treynor, 81. 2, Todd Schmidt, AHST, 84. 3, Chris Zimmerman, Treynor 88. 4, Cole Chapin, Treynor 88. 5, Andy Hoffman, Audubon, 89. 6, Michael Bylund, Audubon, 89.
WIC tournament girls scoring: Missouri Valley 396, Treynor 406, Audubon 419, Underwood 426, Griswold 444, Tri-Center 496, A-H-S-T 506, Riverside no team.
Individual medalists: 1, Susie Bylund, Audubon, 89. 2, Taylor Gardner, Missouri Valley, 91. 3, Anna Hildebrand, Riverside, 91. 4, Janelle Smithson, Missouri Valley, 93. 5, Gracie Myers, Treynor, 97. 6, Chelsie Hardesty, Underwood, 98.