In 23 days, the Iowa High School Athletic Association will crown a Class 4A state champion in boys golf.
Wednesday was the prelude at TPC Deere Run.
With the state's top eight teams gathered at the PGA Tour venue for the Cedar Rapids Washington Invitational, it was an opportunity for each school to see where it stood among the elite.
Pleasant Valley showed it has the pieces to contend for a championship.
Powered by a 2-over 73 from Jack Dumas, the Spartans finished second in the 18-team field with a 315. Waukee won the tournament with a 307.
"This is a mini-state meet," PV sophomore Jack Roemer said. "We didn't play to our full potential today. We know we have a lot of work to do yet, but we feel confident about how we stand in the state right now."
Cedar Falls, West Des Moines Valley, Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Rapids Xavier, Dowling Catholic and Johnston — which, along with Waukee and PV, comprise the state's top eight in scoring — were all in the field.
Washington head coach Denny Goettel tries to assemble a strong field and a challenging golf course each year for its tournament. It was held at the Amana Colonies Golf Club last season.
This was a special treat for the players, with the likes of Francesco Molinari, Zach Johnson and Michael Kim strolling these fairways just two months ago in the John Deere Classic.
"We're lucky; very, very lucky," Roemer said. "It is a cool experience to walk down the same fairways as the pros did."
Waukee's Griffin Parker and Cedar Rapids Prairie's Ian Johnston each shot a 2-under 69. Parker won medalist honors on a cardback.
Bettendorf's Matthew Garside, who moved to the Quad-Cities in mid-August, was third with an even-par 71.
Garside spent the first three years of high school in north St. Paul, Minnesota, but the family decided to move here as his grandmother is battling Alzheimer's.
"It has been tough to focus on school, but I'm still meeting a lot of people and I don't know where to go," he said. "I'm still learning all the roads, restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations.
"My teammates and coach have been very welcoming and accommodating."
Garside has plenty of game. The Iowa golf commit has shot 70, 71 and 73 in his first three 18-hole meets for the Bulldogs.
"I just kind of hung in there today," he said. "I was missing it right off the tee, but I stayed away from the big miss. I hit a lot of greens."
Garside has lofty goals in the next month.
"The big goal is to win the state tournament," he said.
Dumas, a member at Deere Run, carried the Spartans with his nines of 35 and 38. He hit 16 of 18 greens and finished sixth in the individual race.
"It was the best I've ever hit the ball in my life today, but I couldn't make a putt," Dumas said.
Roemer rebounded from a front-nine 43 with a 35 on the back for 78. He had a nine at the par-5 second and an eight at the par-4 fifth despite finding the fairway on both tee balls.
"I just put myself in bad positioning after the tee shot," he said. "For the most part, I was hitting the ball well. I couldn't score when I needed to."
The Spartans had consistency behind them. Joe Logan, Lucas Wood and Lucas Wendel all turned in 82s. Nathan Tillman posted 85.
David Schwartz fired an 83 for Bettendorf, which finished with a 340 and in 14th place. Mitchell Temperly led North Scott, which registered a 365, with an 83.
Muscatine, the other Mississippi Athletic Conference team in the field, was 17th with a 384.
The four MAC programs turn their focus to the conference meet Sept. 21-22 at Kewanee Dunes before districts on Oct. 1 and 2.
"We weren't as happy as we could have been today, but to still be in the top three here gives us a little more confidence we can compete when we don't have our best," Roemer said. "Confidence and consistency are the two things we need to step up before conference and districts."