It may have been a day even a kite wouldn’t want to be out in, but the Waukee boys’ golf team was engaged in round-two action of the state golf meet.
Held within the confines of the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City, Waukee overcame tough conditions and a nine-stroke run by West Des Moines Valley to secure their second straight state title.
“We knew we could do it, it’s been our number one goal all season long and we found a way to win despite the weather and the run by Valley,” said junior Jack Starr.
Following day one’s action, the Warrior held a ten stroke lead over their CIML-Conference rival West Des Moine Valley 315-325. That lead was dwarfed throughout the next round and a big part of what led to the diminished lead was the wind, part of one of very few reasons why a ten stroke lead in any season would be in jeopardy.
“That wind really was the great equalizer here today,” began head coach John Kotz. “It gave us fits today and made it tough to hold a lead. Usually, when you have a lead as we had following day one, it’s a sure win and when you see a finish like today, you know tough weather conditions were involved.”
The wind truly was the great equalizer and it made things considerably more challenging yet the Warriors were up for the challenge.
“With the wind as strong as it was, we knew we had to be smart with our shots,” began senior Charlie Steer. “Keeping the ball low was a must but even then it was tough. Wasn’t the best round for us overall but we grinded through out there and that’s what got it done today.”
Leading the way individually for the Warriors was Matthew O’Brien who led the Waukee lineup for the second straight day. His total round two score ended up with a 12-over-par 83. O’Brien kicked things off with a one-over-par 36 across the front nine but windy and rough conditions led to a tougher back-nine with an eleven-over-par 47 complete with four triple bogeys. Overall O’Brien finished tenth overall.
Following O’Brien was Jackson Starr who faired pretty well in day two sporting a ten-over-par 81. A six par performance across the front-nine gave the junior a four-over-par score of 39 which was followed by five pars and a six-over-par score of 42 across the back-nine. Joshua Nichols rounded out the top 20 individual scorers for Waukee as he ended his state meet time with a 14-over-par score of 164. The front-nine for the senior included four pars and one birdie for an eight-over-par mark of 43 while a three par and one birdie performance earned him another six-over-par mark.
Other scores for Waukee included senior Charles Andrews with an overall score of 16-over-par 170 for 35th place, Jack Utsler with a 32-over-par score of 174, and Charlie Steer with a 57th place finish of 35-over-par 177.
The win gives Waukee boys’ golf their sixth state title since 2010. It continues to mark a strong run by the program which coach Kotz talked about as having a lot to do with the experienced culture that surrounded the Warriors this season.
“We were very senior-heavy this year which was one of the biggest reasons why we were still able to come out with a win here today,” said Kotz. “These guys have been through tough situations like this and knew the best ways to handle these kinds of conditions. Even Jack Starr who’s a junior has been through similar situations as this is his third varsity year. I don’t think that if we weren’t as experienced as we were, that we would have come out on top.”
Waukee’s title marks several notes in history as they not only become the first back-to-back Class 4A champions in quite some time, they are the only Class 4A team in over ten years to go back-to-back twice.