Western Dubuque’s Jax Stelzer chips to the flag during the Mississippi Valley Conference Divisional Meet at Thunder Hills, Sept. 28. The Bobcats took first in the meet with a score of 301.

Coach Ben Wilson’s Western Dubuque golf team has become one of the top programs in the Mississippi Valley Conference, and the 2020 Bobcats had a season to remember in spite of falling just short of qualifying for the Class 4A State Meet for the third year in a row.

“We had a very good season again,” said Wilson. “We finished the year 51-25, even after not playing at full strength much of the year. This was just such a fun, respectful, dedicated group. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them.”

The Bobcats, led by the Stelzer brothers — Jax and Davis — showed steady improvement all season, and with a healthy lineup at season’s end, won the second MVC Divisional Meet at Thunder Hills to finish second overall in the conference standings.

“The highlight of the season was shooting 301 in our second divisional,” said Wilson. “It was an unbelievable effort to beat teams like Cedar Falls and Linn-Mar in that meet. We finished the season ranked No. 14 by the Iowa Golf Coaches Association.”

“I think the big thing for us was getting our full healthy lineup together,” Wilson added. “This was a challenging season to navigate through, but we stuck together and toughed it out when we were short-handed. We were pretty good when we had everyone playing together.”

Senior Jax Stelzer had another terrific season, and led the Bobcats in scoring with a 75.67 18-hole average. He was named First Team All-MVC and 2nd Team All-State by the IGCA.

“Jax is arguably one of the best players ever to come through Western Dubuque,” Wilson said. “He’s been our best player for four years and has set the stage for our team success the last three years.”

Junior Davis Stelzer was outstanding in his own right, averaging 76 strokes per 18 holes to earn First Team MVC and Second Team All-State accolades.

Senior Max Nauman played the three spot in the lineup and averaged 87.83 on the season.

“Max has been there with Jax the entire way and spent three season playing No. 3, “ said Wilson. “He dedicated himself to the sport and helped us turn the corner and be successful as a team.”

Freshman Jackson Webber had a terrific first season of varsity golf, and averaged 82.89 with an 18-hole low of 79. Senior Karson Skrtich played the No. 5 spot, and averaged 91.89 for the year with a low of 84.

“Karson was in the varsity lineup the last two years and provided some good scores in critical meets this year. We would not have had the success we had without his presence in the lineup,” Wilson said.

Junior Brayden Staner (98.6), freshman Jackson Skrtich (96.8) and sophomore Nolan Vaske (99.0) also saw time in the Western Dubuque lineup.

“Even though everyone was disappointed we missed state — finishing fourth in the district meet for the third year in a row — I think the guys will look back at all our success and feel really good about what we accomplished,” Wilson added.

Although the Bobcats will feel the sting of losing three seniors, Wilson feels good about the state of the program.

“We should be set to have a really good year again next season. We are set at the top of the lineup with Davis returning for his senior season,” he said. “Jackson Webber is only going to be a sophomore and had a really strong freshman campaign.”

“After that, we have Jackson Skrtich, Brayden Staner and Nolan Vaske returning with varsity experience,” Wilson added. ”On top of that, we have a couple of really talented freshmen coming in next year. We should be in a great position to be one of the top teams in the conference again.”