How low can ’Cats go?

Lucas Johnson knew what this year’s squad was capable of in practice.

It didn’t take long to see what they can do in competition.

Tallying its best score in six years, the Marshalltown boys golf team defeated Fort Dodge in its season opener 297-368 Thursday at Elmwood Country Club. Michael Schrempf fired an even-par 70 for medalist honors and freshman Nate Vance was three strokes back for runner-up as the Bobcats (1-0, 1-0) cruised in the Central Iowa Conference Northern Division dual.

Brant McKibben and Sam Weatherman completed the team score with 77s, while Beau Ragland equaled the Dodgers’ frontrunner – Thomas Hartley – with an 80. Marshalltown matched its best score since winning the Mark Mann Invite at Highland Park Golf Course in 2008, though it was something Johnson thought his club was capable of.

“We played well in qualifying heading into today so our score wasn’t a complete surprise, but as a coach you wonder how practice will translate into a competitive round,” Coach Johnson said. “Having four scores in the 70s was one of our early season goals and it was nice to achieve that and almost a fifth there as well.”

Brandin Chaloupek rounded out the MHS roster shooting an 88. Drew Hanson finished second for the Dodgers (0-1, 0-1) firing an 87, while Thomas Lang (96) and Devin Summers (104) completed their scoring quartet.

Coming off a state tournament appearance last fall, Schrempf set the tone early for a strong senior campaign.

“Michael Schrempf is playing with tremendous confidence right now,” Johnson said. “He hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation and was able to get up and down for easy pars with strong putting and chipping when he missed his approach.”

Vance’s last outing at Elmwood ended with an 11th place tie at the Times-Republican City Golf Open and the freshman followed it with an impressive prep debut Thursday.

“For Nate Vance to come out in the first meet of his high school career and shoot 73 shows how talented he is and his potential going forward. Sam Weatherman and Brant McKibben both did a nice job managing the course and responding well to a couple of loose shots. They showed upperclassmen maturity that comes from their two full years of varsity experience.”

The Bobcats are off until Aug. 25 when they head to the Mason City Invite at Mason City Country Club. Tee time is set for 10 a.m.