Jax Stelzer

Western Dubuque’s Jax Stelzer returns to lead the Bobcats this season after placing 27th overall at the Iowa Class 4A state meet last fall.

The 2019 boys golf fall season swings into action today in Cedar Rapids with the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet at St. Andrews Golf Course.

Here is a capsule look at the area teams in the Mississippi Valley Conference this season:

DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD

Coach — Chad Parkin (11th year)

Key players — Kyle Arthofer (Sr.), Kyler Vanden Berge (Sr.), Nick Kaesbauer (Sr.), Nate Kaesbauer (Soph.)

Outlook — Hempstead narrowly missed a trip to state as a team last year, and with plenty of returning talent back in the fold, the Mustangs have their sights firmly on reaching the state field once again.

“I really like our depth,” Hempstead coach Chad Parkin said. “We have four guys who all played every meet last year and there’s a couple more guys in the wings filling in those fifth and sixth spots. I like our experience and hopefully that will parlay into a nice run in October.”

Leading the charge is Kyle Arthofer, who surged to the forefront of Hempstead’s lineup last year alongside Joey Kaesbauer. Arthofer was close to qualifying for state individually last fall, and he has a chip on his shoulder to take his game to another level as a senior.

“He was all-conference last year and had an awesome summer,” Parkin said. “Kyle’s put in an immense amount of time into his game and I’m expecting him to fill in that No. 1 spot. That’s a lot of pressure but I think he can handle it. He has a great demeanor and played a lot of high-pressure tournaments over the summer. That’s only going to pay off for him over the fall.”

Kyler Vanden Berge will provide a solid No. 2 as a senior, and Joey’s younger brothers, Nick and Nate Kaesbauer, give the Mustangs superb depth for what could be a big season for the green and gold.

DUBUQUE SENIOR

Coach — Tim Felderman (11th year)

Key players — Jake Woodward (Sr.), Nick Obbink (Sr.), Timmy Casey (Jr.)

Outlook — Jake Woodward became a reliable scorer for the Rams last season, and the senior will have to keep it up in a No. 1 role for the squad this fall. Woodward fronts a lineup that includes Nick Obbink and Timmy Casey.

“Jake and Nick will hopefully step up and provide good senior leadership and improve throughout the year, as we expect every year,” Senior coach Tim Felderman said. “Jake put in a lot of time out on the course this summer to improve his game and he’ll be ready to go when we start the season.”

The biggest question mark for the Rams will be maintaining a solid fourth score. The players in the hunt to provide that this season are Aidan Obermueller, Brady Schiesl and Drew Zillig.

“You always need that fourth score and it might be even a new kid coming in,” Felderman said. “It’s always hard until you really get out and really evaluate the kids. You never know until that first week and you learn from there, but we hope some of the guys will step up for us.”

DUBUQUE WAHLERT

Coach — Tim Ehrmann (fifth year)

Key players — Ben Vaassen (Jr.), Will Coohey (Fr.), Nick Splinter (Soph.), Ben Cummer (Jr.)

Outlook — For the last two years, the Golden Eagles have been tops in the city and advanced on to the Iowa state meet.

To make it three straight trips, Wahlert will have to overcome significant graduation losses in Sam Ambrosy, Mitch Walz and Jack Doyle.

“It’s a whole new crew except for Ben Vaassen,” Wahlert coach Tim Ehrmann said. “I’m really excited for this year with no seniors on the roster at all. It’s going to be a good learning opportunity and a two-year process. We’ll see really how these guys develop into next year, but still our expectations for this year don’t change. We would like to get back to state for a third year in a row. We have six guys who love the game of golf and can’t wait to get out and improve themselves.”

Vaassen stands as the only returning scorer from last fall, so his leadership and play at the No. 1 spot will be pivotal as the other young players get their first taste of varsity action fresh out of the nest.

“He’s the only returnee and I have all the confidence in Ben that he’ll step up and play that No. 1 position for us,” Ehrmann said. “The more improvement he makes for us throughout this year will only better us and help us grow as we transition to next year with more experience.”

WESTERN DUBUQUE

Coach — Ben Wilson (sixth year)

Key players — Jax Stelzer (Jr.), Davis Stelzer (Soph.), Max Naumann (Jr.), Casey Perrenoud (Sr.)

Outlook — With the Stelzers anchoring the top of the lineup, the Bobcats are setting their goals high this fall.

Jax Stelzer reached the Iowa state meet last fall as a sophomore and shot a 5-over 76 to place 27th overall. Meanwhile, younger brother Davis Stelzer ascended to the top of the lineup and even outscored his older brother at times as a freshman last season.

The brothers make a fierce duo for WD, which believes it has the depth behind them to punch a ticket to state as a team this fall.

“With both of them being first team all-conference last year, that’s going to be tough for almost all the players in our league to beat,” Bobcats coach Ben Wilson said. “The top of our lineup is really, really solid. Like many high school teams, we’ll be battling to find that good No. 4 score, but we’ve got some guys with potential and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Max Naumann and Casey Perrenoud figure to round out as the top scorers.

“Max has really improved and he’s going to be a solid scorer for us this season,” Wilson said. “If we can get that fourth score, this team can do some big things.”

With his younger brother pushing him along the way, Jax Stelzer should be the catalyst that pushes the Bobcats to where they want to go this fall.

“He sets higher expectations for himself than anyone else ever sets for him,” Wilson said. “Jax puts more pressure on himself than anyone I’ve ever coached. He expects to be back at state and plans to compete with the best. There’s no doubt in my mind he can compete with the best in the state.”

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