The effects of COVID-19 are still being felt by those all across the athletic landscape. It has been just over a month since the spring high school sports season was supposed to commence but has instead come to a halt.
There’s a lot of question marks surrounding what could have been within the spring sports season. That includes what was set to be a very promising season for Dallas Center-Grimes boys golf. The Mustangs continued their climb up the competitive ladder and ended up capping off their 2019 campaign with the best finish in program history. It marked the first time since 2004 the Mustangs had punched their respective tickets to the district tournament. What was left after that season was the potential for even more in 2020.
“Last year was quite remarkable and we were really looking forward to building on that for the 2020 season,” said head coach Jordan Ray. “With who we had returning and who was ready to step up to the varsity level, we had a great feeling about what we might be able to accomplish.”
There was plenty of firepower awaiting coach Ray, spearheaded by four returning varsity starters from last season. All four of which held nine-hole averages of 49 strokes or less and 18-hole averages of 95 strokes or less. One of those returning letter-winning varsity starters was Carter Bowen, who had a very strong feeling about the 2020 season.
“Last year was really eye-opening as far as what we were capable of doing,” said Bowen. “We all were committed to the program and for those returning, we all shared those same goals. We felt we had a group of guys who could do a lot within the conference so it really hurt when we found out the season was done.”
Over before it even started. With so much optimism and potential out there for the Mustangs, it was a tough pill to swallow. The Mustangs were establishing themselves as true contenders in a conference that many argue was one of the toughest boys golf conferences in the state.
“The Little Hawkeye Conference is for sure one of the best conferences in boys 3A golf,” Ray said. “I feel we had a really experienced and deep team that could have really gone far.”
Some years are better than others in terms of the number of athletes going out for a sport. For DC-G boys golf, that number continued to rise over the years and the talent with it. By the end of last season coach Ray was presented with something every coach dreams of…the problem of so much talent.
“It was going to be one of those years where it would be tough finding who would fit in that number six spot,” continued Ray. “I probably had 12 guys who truly could have competed for a varsity spot. Unfortunately I didn’t get to make those decisions and it was really tough.”
What adds to the sting is all the improvement that the seniors made over the course of their careers. It was a group that loved the sport whether they worked in the golf sector like Bowen and others. That also includes fellow senior Ethan Blum. Within the future plans for Blum, the current high school senior plans to attend DMACC before he plans to transfer to another university where he then plans to pick back up the sport of golf on a college level.
Blum, like his fellow senior golfers, was extremely saddened by the lack of a season but says he looks forward to showcasing what he’s learned during his time at DC-G.
“It stinks not having a senior season for sure,” said Blum. “I don’t let that get to me though. I am just happy for what I was able to do here at DC-G. I’m really excited to show everybody else what DC-G strong is both on and off the golf course.”
It was a season that was set to showcase all of that senior talent that coach Ray mentioned could transcend the high school ranks.
“A lot of these guys really could excel in golf at the next level,” said Ray. “Every one of them has improved vastly since their freshmen years.”
A lot of that credit, as senior Brody Stiles added, went to coach Ray and the work he did.
“I’m going to miss just being a golfer at DC-G,” said Stiles. “Coach Ray made things fun and exciting and all the guys were really positive.”
For now, the wait for high school golf in Iowa will be extended and there will always be a question of what could have been for DC-G boys golf in 2020.