Last week, Walt Whitman High School golf coach Karl O’Donoghue said that the county was getting back to its old ways, perhaps not a far cry from its stretch from 2002-2008 in which a Montgomery team won a state title every year.
“Overall, I think the county is coming back to as strong as it always is,” he said. “We’ve been slacking a bit over the past few years.”
Well, not last year, in which Thomas S. Wootton ended Urbana’s three-year string of state titles. But, from the scores turned in at the district tournament on Monday at Poolesville Golf Course, O’Donoghue appears prophetic. Five teams — Wootton, Walter Johnson, Winston Churchill, Whitman and Quince Orchard — had legitimate state title-contending scores and the county will be losing very little of a supremely talented core of players.
The winner of the district tournament, Wootton’s Delaney Shah (68) is only a sophomore, as is second-place finisher Luke Schaap (70). Shah’s teammate, junior Justin Feldman, already has a state title, Capital Cup bragging rights, and a sub-30 stroke nine hole score under his belt before the start of this fall.
The county’s regular season scoring champion, Whitman’s Graham Hutchinson, is just a freshman, while a host of others, namely Quince Orchard’s Colton Christensen, Wootton’s Graysen Bright, and essentially all of Churchill, will be back for at least one more season as well.
The future “is very bright,” Wootton coach Paul Williams said. “Even kids like Jordan [Weitz] who are just one or two holes away from being right there. ... I think the future is very bright. They’re going to get better, they’re going to play more competition over the summer, they’re going to get better and better and better as the next couple years go. Three years from now? I’m not sure what I’m looking at.”
For now, he can settle on looking ahead two weeks, when his Patriots will begin their state title defense.
Walter Johnson didn’t win a match for the first month of this season. It took them three matches just to pick up a set and another five to take a team to five sets, which it eventually lost to Bethesda-Chevy Chase. It was a strange start to one of the county’s traditionally strong programs in recent years. But what a difference the return of one of Montgomery County’s most talented hitters can make.
Senior Brigid Morris had been sidelined for the first eight matches of the season with a concussion she suffered in a preseason scrimmage with Col. Zadok Magruder. In that span, the Wildcats went 1-7 and won just seven sets combined. Enter Morris, and Walter Johnson is 2-0, beating Clarksburg and the previously 4-1 Watkins Mill.
During Morris’ two matches (as of Sunday night), the 6-foot outside hitter has racked up 24 kills, 23 digs, and four blocks, adding a much needed complement to fellow hitter Victoria Ansarah, who is second on the team with 42 kills, and lightening the load of libero Emily Burk.
Morris’ return could throw a wrench into a hierarchy that finally seemed to settle down a bit. Matchups with Paint Branch and Gaithersburg, both teams with winning records, will prove to be a nice barometer of how far Walter Johnson has come since adding Morris back in.
How they rank
1. Academy of the Holy Cross
4. Winston Churchill
1. Thomas S. Wootton
2. Walter Johnson
3. Winston Churchill
4. Walt Whitman
5. Quince Orchard
1. Thomas S. Wootton
3. Walter Johnson
4. Stone Ridge
5. Holy Cross