A little more than five months ago, Whitney Carmack and her family set off on their annual Memorial Day vacation to their beach house in Ocean City, N.J. Carmack, a senior at Poolesville High School, decided to give her golf clubs a vacation too, leaving them in her car trunk back in Montgomery County. Well, a thief thought a more permanent vacation was in store, plucking her Cobra irons right out of the car, never to be seen by a Carmack again — she admitted the 4-year-old clubs needed to be replaced.
Five months later, Carmack has gotten fairly used to her new set of TaylorMade irons and Titleist woods. But it wasn't until Tuesday at the state championships, hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park that she said she really hit the ball solid.
Improving 10 shots from last year's state tournament, Carmack's 90 was well under the individual girls' cut of 93, good for the senior Falcon's first ever trip to tomorrow's state finals.
“I think I was more confident, relaxed,” said Carmack, who overcame two triple bogeys and two double bogeys in punching her ticket to Wednesday's round. “I just told myself to keep making pars.”
Carmack isn't the only one making her first appearance in the state finals. While she competed as an individual, Andy Baker, Rohit Mandavia, Craig Morton and Trevor Stottlemyer served as the four team representatives and the quartet cobbled together a landmark accomplishment in becoming the first Poolesville team to qualify for the second round. Their score of 344 was second of the nine teams representing the 1A/2A classifications, 29 shots behind defending champ Marriott's Ridge and six ahead of McDonough.
“That was our goal, to play the second day,” coach David Gillespie said. “Now we have to reset our goals. I don't have a number in mind but just to put a scare in Marriott's Ridge possibly and I'd just like to see everybody just play a little bit better so everybody has a second day that makes them a little bit happier than today, not that we're unhappy.”
As has been the case all year with the Falcons, nobody went particularly low, and nobody went particularly high. Mandavia was the team medalist with an 81 and was followed by Morton (83), Baker (88) and Stottlemyer (92). Both Mandavia and Morton came in with the goal of breaking 80, but neither was all too disappointed with low-80s either, especially given the difficult course conditions that had a Stephen Decatur coach drawing comparisons to the U.S. Open, which is typically billed as the toughest test in golf.
“I mean, I definitely played better than an 83,” said Morton, who hit 12 greens in regulation but struggled to get it in the cup from there. “I hit it well, a lot of greens, more than half the fairways, but I had 39 putts. They were fast, much more so than what I was used to so, I don't know, I just felt like I played so much better than that.”
On Wednesday, Poolesville will have its work cut out for it and then some to top Marriott's Ridge, whose 315 is better than even the entire 3A/4A field, though most coaches agreed that Tuesday's conditions were slightly easier than Monday's, when the larger schools played.
“Three hundred fifteen?” Morton asked rhetorically when he heard the total. “Nah, we got that in the bag. All 65s tomorrow boys!”