LONG GROVE — They broke 300 at the Mississippi Athletic Conference tournament last Friday. They nearly did it again Monday.

The Pleasant Valley boys golf team is hitting its stride at the opportune time.

Thanks to four sub-80 scores, the Spartans rolled to the Class 4A district championship at Glynns Creek Golf Course with a 304 total.

"We're putting up pretty good numbers, the best we've put up all year," said junior Jack Dumas, the meet medalist with a 1-over par 73. "We're all starting to get hot at the right time."

The Spartans have checked off two season-long goals — conference champions and district winners.

The final objective, and the one at the top of the list, is the program's first state championship. PV vies for that this weekend at the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.

Coach Mike Nedelcoff's squad was the state runner-up last year. It was in position to win the championship, but the second day of the 36-hole competition at Brown Deer Golf Club was cancelled because of weather.

"We're really driven," sophomore Nathan Tillman said. "It was bothersome we didn't get it last year, but it has served as motivation for this year. We want to bring it home."

The Spartans have among the best stroke averages in 4A.

"We're better this year and I feel we're the best team there," Dumas said. "Hopefully, we'll play to the best of our abilities like we have all year."

Bettendorf (325) and Cedar Rapids Xavier (327) earned the other two state-qualifying spots in the 14-team field.

Zach Berntgen, one of five seniors in the Bulldogs' lineup, shot a 79. David Schwartz turned in 81 while Tommy Buckwalter had an 82.

"We like Glynns Creek," Berntgen said. "Most of us have played it our whole lives. We came in here strong and everyone felt good."

The Bulldogs have a season average of 333.6, but they've made steady progress in the second half of the season. They were second at last Friday's conference meet.

"I'm not sure there was a turning point, but everyone locked in during the middle of the season and started realizing we're playing good and we have a chance at this," Berntgen said. "It just brought our whole team together."

Burlington sophomore Nate Spear, Iowa City High's Reese Hayden and Davenport Assumption freshman Keaton Thissen qualified for state as individuals, the lowest two scores and ties on non-qualifying teams. Spear shot 76 while Hayden and Thissen had 79.

Dumas was the MAC medalist last Friday with a 3-under 69.

This round wasn't quite as smooth with three bogeys in his first 10 holes, but he turned it around with birdies at the par-4 12th and par-5 17th.

"I was a little tense when I started, a little quick," Dumas said.

Dumas, in fact, said his game improved when the wind kicked up.

"It invigorated my focus a little bit more," he said.

Still, Dumas hopes the last two meets are just a prelude to state.

"These two wins don't mean much unless it leads up to a state title," he said.

Jack Roemer and Tillman finished three shots behind Dumas at 76. Alex Blackwell had his best score in competition this season with a 79.

Dumas and Roemer have been the catalysts for PV the past couple of seasons. Tillman has given the Spartans a dependable third scorer this fall. His scoring average has dropped by three strokes since last year.

"My misses have definitely gotten smaller, something I worked on a lot over the summer," Tillman said. "Also, my short game has improved a lot. When I miss the green, I can get up and down to save par.

"I was playing really well at the beginning of last year and fell apart at the end. This year, I'm just more consistent."

The Spartans had their first look at the Tournament Club of Iowa this past weekend. The state course features many elevation changes and the weather forecast isn't promising.

Temperatures aren't expected to get out of the 40s.

"This is the biggest tournament we'll ever play in our high school career, so we definitely have to be mentally prepared, physically prepared and bring enough clothing," Tillman said. "I think we're ready for it this year."

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Sports Editor

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.