MONROE — Prairie City-Monroe senior Hunter Van Veen has won plenty of medalist honors in his career, but Monday’s may have been the most difficult.
Van Veen won the honor after a rainy two-hole playoff with teammate Justin Beener, but their 72s helped the Class 2A No. 1 Mustangs top a seven-team, 18-hole field at PCM’s lone home meet at Gateway Recreation.
“Playing against Justin isn’t really what I wanted to do, and coach told us we had to do it, but it turned out pretty well,” Van Veen said. “I would’ve loved to split it.”
The Mustangs shot a 307, which topped second-place Grinnell by 19 strokes. Boone finished third at 338, fellow Jasper County school Colfax-Mingo was fourth with a 345 and Bondurant-Farrar finished fifth at 354. Led by Michael Neff’s 83, PCM’s JV squad shot a 356 to top the varsity teams from both Chariton and Eddyville-Blakesburg.
“For the conditions today and the start we got off to, I’m proud of the boys. They never gave up, and that’s what makes this team really good,” PCM coach Mike Smith said. “The wind was really tough, but the kids adapted. We know we still have some strokes we can make up on the course, but any time you get a W, that’s a good thing.”
Van Veen, currently ranked No. 1 as an individual in 2A, shot a 35 on his first nine and followed it up with a 37 on his second, not showing the same improvement many of his teammates did. Class 2A No. 8 Devon Woody improved by three strokes on his second nine to take fourth overall with a 79, while No. 25 Ryan Jennings improved by two the second time around in his 84. Reid Jenkins also shot an 84, and the Mustangs were rounded out by a non-scoring round of 89 from Wade Hill.
“He actually did struggle, but he has such a complete game that can make up for it elsewhere when he does,” Smith said of Van Veen. “Today he was struggling off the tee, but he was excellent around the greens. He might be the defending champ of a lot of the tournaments we’ll go to, but he knows people are gunning for him. It’s days like this that remind him he’s still go work to do, and that’s a good thing.”
Despite some early struggles, including hitting into the water after a huge drive on the front nine, the Class 2A 15th-ranked Beener composed himself throughout his round and finished with 36s on each side. His day ended in the rainy playoff with Van Veen, but it was still solid overall.
“He kind of got off to a slow start not making putts but driving the ball well, and then suddenly those putts started falling,” Smith said of Beener. “He got really hot on the back nine, and he’s just really solid right now. He works really hard at his game and had a great day.”
As for the Tigerhawks, a lack of playing and practice time hasn’t tampered coach Kyle Ament’s expecations.
Senior Colton Russell led the team with an 83 (39, 44), but a number of missed opportunities held the Tigerhawks back from what could’ve been a higher finish.
MaCauley Mosher finished second on the team with an 84 (46, 38), Jimmy Abell carded an 88 with 44s on each end and Austin Yoakum rounded out the team scoring with a 90. Mason Mosher and Brady DeJoode contributed non-scoring rounds of 97 and 99, respectively.
“I was kind of surprised we got fourth because the boys didn’t really play well,” Ament said. “Colton Russell shot a good round, but some of the others didn’t play to their full potential, so it could’ve been a lot better.”
The positive all seven teams could take away from Monday was simply getting through the meet just before the rain started to fall. For PCM, it meant earning a win at home in its only chance this season, and further progressing in a quest for another appearance at the state meet.
“We didn’t have to load up the Suburban or van and take a long trip, and it’s nice to actually know how the course is going to play,” Smith said. “I was glad we got it in with how horrible the weather has been, and I was glad they could play in front of their parents.”
“It was good to get to get our home meet in since it hasn’t worked out the past few years with the weather,” Van Veen added. “The season’s going great. We go into meets feeling like we can win, and then we go out and do it. We just need to keep that going.”