LONG GROVE, Iowa — One stroke kept the Pleasant Valley boys golf team out of the Class 4A state tournament last fall.
Western Dubuque and PV tied for the third and final qualifying spot at the district tournament, but the Bobcats had the lower sixth score to advance.
"When you think one stroke or one less putt was all we needed to move on, it just gets you going in practice," sophomore Jack Roemer said. "We're definitely more comfortable and more hungry for a state championship."
Behind Roemer and fellow sophomore Jack Dumas, the Spartans are off to a stellar start this fall.
Roemer posted a one-over par 73 to earn medalist honors and Dumas turned in a 74 Wednesday as PV won the eight-team North Scott Invitational at Glynns Creek Golf Course with a 310 total -- 22 strokes clear of runner-up North Scott.
In four tournaments, PV has three victories and a second-place finish. It has a team scoring average of 309, including a 301 at Geneva Golf & Country Club to win the Muscatine Invitational by 52 strokes on Aug. 10.
Roemer and Dumas are at the forefront. They each played around 15 junior tournaments this summer across the country.
"It definitely teaches us how to compete under big-time competition and pressure," Dumas said. "Those guys are really, really good. You've got to just play your best to keep up."
Roemer played in AGA and Hurricane Junior Tour events in Chicago, Indiana and around Iowa.
"Jack and I were playing tournaments every week in the summer," Roemer said. "So from all those experiences and feeling that pressure, it is so much easier when you come into a high school tournament."
Dumas and Roemer, the only two players in the Mississippi Athletic Conference with scoring averages under 80 for multiple events this fall, feed off each other.
Roemer can rip it off the tee. At the closing par-4 18th Wednesday, he smashed a drive to the bottom of the hill, about a 340-yard tee ball. He flipped a wedge into three feet and made birdie.
Dumas doesn't quite have that length, but is precise around the greens.
"His short game is really good," Roemer said. "He can make putts from about everywhere."
They've become close friends off the golf course. On the course?
"We're back to rivals for those 18 holes we're going against each other," Roemer said. "After the round, we're back to good friends. It is a fun little deal we have going on."
The key for PV will be what it can get from the rest of its lineup.
Lucas Wendel posted 81 and Lucas Woods had 82 Wednesday, followed by Joe Logan (83) and Nathan Tillman (85). Tillman averaged around 81 strokes in PV's first three meets.
"Jack and I are doing a lot right now," Dumas said. "Nathan has been a big help as a freshman. We're looking for somebody else to step up with us."
PV has the fifth best scoring average in Class 4A behind Cedar Falls, West Des Moines Valley, Des Moines Roosevelt and Johnston.
Roosevelt beat PV in Des Moines to start the season, but the Spartans knocked off Roosevelt and Johnston at Blue Top Ridge in Riverside a little more than week ago.
"We need to get those other guys confident," Roemer said. "When you have confidence in golf, you can go a long way."
There were three players to shoot 79 Wednesday.
Davenport North's Bryan Verdon won the cardback for third, followed by North Scott's Mitchell Temperly and Davenport Central's Alex McLeland.
The Lancers had three players under 85.
"We've got a good team this year," said Temperly, who had eight up-and-downs for par in his round. "We're all competing with each other. It is a good group of guys."
Temperly admits it will be difficult to overtake PV, but said second place in the MAC is definitely in reach come late September.
"For us, it is all about managing our misses on the course," Temperly said. "We have some bad holes that really ruin our rounds. If we can do some damage control on the course, we can be pretty competitive."