Through the years, Montgomery County has established lofty expectations in golf. So, after a few seasons of watching Frederick County’s Urbana High School steal the spotlight, it has returned to dynastic ways.
Thomas S. Wootton (633 two-day total) was awarded its second consecutive 4A/3A trophy on Wednesday afternoon at the University of Maryland, College Park golf course. Four of the remaining eight large school finalists hailed from Montgomery, and Winston Churchill (638) stood just one slot down on the medal stand from the Patriots. The only 2A/1A school in the county, Poolesville (685), captured silver for its class.
The individuals shined too. Not 20 minutes prior to Wootton being crowned, Justin Feldman took Steven Segrist of Glenelg to a playoff for the individual male title, which Segrist prevailed. Delaney Shah, Wootton’s prized sophomore girl, closed the tournament 1-under-par, losing only to defending champion Bryana Nguyen, who finished an unfathomable 8-under, obliterating the previous two-day record by four shots. One missed putt from Segrist and a more human pace from Nguyen and it’s not unthinkable that Wootton could have monopolized the 4A/3A titles with the rest of the county speckling the remaining top-10 spots.
“Two years in a row,” Feldman said. “That’s something to be proud of. It’s not easy to be a defending champ and win again.”
Then there’s the non-Wootton individuals. Churchill’s Luke Schaap nearly scrapped his way into a three-way playoff with Feldman and Segrist. A bogey on 18, the result of an unlucky lie in a fairway bunker, doomed the sophomore Bulldog to a third place finish. Walt Whitman’s Andrew Barth shot a second-day 70 to jump up the leaderboard to fifth. And Schaap’s teammate, Adam Gray, shot a 74 on Wednesday to close just two slots behind Barth.
“I think next year we’re going to be really, really good,” Gray said. “If we just play the right people at the right time I think we’re going to be unstoppable.”
Team-wise, not to be forgotten are Poolesville and Walter Johnson, both making their inaugural state final debuts. The Falcons finished second in the 2A/1A class behind powerhouse Marriott’s Ridge, and the Wildcats closed at eighth for the larger schools.
Falcons’ coach David Gillespie said on Tuesday that he wanted to give Marriott’s Ridge, the defending champs, a scare. And, though the 71-shot gap between the two teams isn’t going to be frightening anybody, the school’s trophy case will be populated by some state golf hardware, the first in its history.
“It’s fantastic,” Gillespie said. “I’m very proud of everybody. It was their year. We set our goals and we were able to get it done and it was great.”
The scary part, at least for any school outside of Montgomery’s borders, is that almost all the talent is coming back for at least one more year. Winston Churchill, which trailed Wootton by just five, returns all four starters, including Schaap and Gray. Wootton will boast four players in 2014 who have experience winning a state championship, including its rocks in Feldman and Shah. Graham Hutchinson, the regular season leader in stroke average, still has three more years left in him with a young squad at Whitman. Walter Johnson, the regular season county champion, and Quince Orchard, each bring back a significant portion of its core as well.
“Montgomery County is back,” Churchill coach Michael Fisher said. “Yeah, we’re back.”