Tom Schebler was among the first players to conclude his round Monday afternoon at the Iowa Class 4A district golf tournament.

After turning in a season-low round of 76, it became a waiting game for he and his Davenport Assumption teammates.

Palms were sweaty. Eyes were fixated on the scoreboard in the picnic area at Palmer Hills Golf Course.

"We were doing a lot of math in our heads," Schebler said. "It was very nerve-racking waiting for those scores to come in."

Linn-Mar (298) and Ottumwa (305) finished 1-2 while Assumption squeaked past Muscatine by one stroke, 311-312, for the final state-qualifying spot.

Anchored by senior Max Gogel's 73 and Schebler's 4-over par round, Assumption has advanced to the state tournament in back-to-back years for the first time in program history.

The Knights play in the 36-hole event this weekend at the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City, Iowa.

"It is fun to be able to do it again," Gogel said. "Being able to come back and play good golf after we won the conference (meet) is pretty important."

Assumption upended Muscatine by two shots at the MAC meet. This time, a 73, 76 and two 81s were enough to fend off the Muskies.

"I told our kids, 'Just remember, every stroke counts on that course today, and don't ever think you're out of it because you make one mistake,'" Assumption coach Gary Laake said. "You pound it into their heads and then they see it for real.

"We knew it would be very close."

Clinton's Jake Luett (73), Bettendorf's Benny Flanagan (74) and Pleasant Valley's Michael Showers (74) were among the individual area state qualifiers.

Luett finished fourth. Flanagan and Showers took advantage of a new qualifying procedure this fall that allows the top two finishers on non-state qualifying teams to move on.

Flanagan had four birdies in his round, including a 35-footer at the par-5 14th. The 74 matched his second-lowest 18-hole score of the season.

"It is everything that I've worked for all summer and all fall put into one round," Flanagan said. "I struck the ball really solid. But beyond that, my putting on the 4- to 5-footers was huge."

The team's No. 1 player admitted being on his home course helped.

"I've been playing the blacks (back tees) a lot here," he said. "I know right where to hit it and know all the places to miss. I was very comfortable."

Showers, who came in averaging 84.8 strokes per round, had his lowest 18-hole score by five strokes. He made a 15-foot par putt at the 15th hole, his last of the day, to get in at 2-over to qualify.

"I knew if I was at 74, I would have a pretty good chance if our team didn't make it," he said. "I hit my driver as good as I've ever hit it. I didn't make any mistakes and I putted really darn good."

After an opening bogey, the senior had only two other miscues the remainder of the round.

"I didn't want today to be the last round," Showers said. "I was just happy I get two more rounds now."

Luett missed out on the state tournament last year after qualifying as a sophomore. He shot a 77 at districts last October on the same course.

This time, he recovered from an early double bogey. He made three birdies on the closing nine.

"I've always been comfortable on this course, but every course is going to bite you and get you at some point," Luett said. "It got me last year. Today, I hit it a lot more consistent and capitalized on a few more opportunities."

Assumption graduated its Nos. 2, 3 and 4 players from last season. Still, the Knights managed to win a half-dozen tournaments and post the low scoring average in the MAC at 315 this season.

"It shows how hard we worked this summer," Schebler said. "We knew it was going to be a bit more challenging, but we had a lot of confidence in ourselves and in each other."

Gogel, the MAC medalist, beat Luett in a playoff for third place. The senior had three birdies and four bogeys in his round.

"We're just a little bit better than an average team without Max, but with him, that really makes the difference," Laake said. "The other kids lean on him, and they know they're going to come through."


Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.