While many of the top golf teams in Montgomery County compete in the ultra-tough Yachmetz division that features two-time defending Maryland 3A/4A State champion Thomas S. Wootton, several teams in the Kyle (middle) division have lofty goals.
Paint Branch finished 5-13 last fall in the Kyle division won by Poolesville and has since been demoted to the Kohut (lower division), but ninth-year Panthers’ coach John DeCavage has already set the bar high for this year’s squad. Led by senior Nicholas Lee and a quartet of juniors who should also return next fall, Paint Branch could easily earn its way back to the Kyle division.
“We’re probably the top seed in the lower division this year,” DeCavage said. “So, with all my returning players and three or four new ones I think we could go 18-0 this year. We have some good players on the team and they have plenty of experience. We also have some new kids who can help us. My guess is we’ll carry 12 players this season.”
Lee is the team’s lone senior starter and he will be joined by juniors Jared Belke, Ryan Kirk, Kevin Tregoniane and Jessica Agyepong and sophomore Brandam McMullen. Last season while playing in the Kyle division, Paint Branch averaged 246.83 for its five golfers, which would have been good for third place in the Kohut division.
While Paint Branch descends into the Kohut, Clarksburg will look to earn its way from the Kyle back to the Yachmetz division. Coyotes’ fourth-year coach Cliff Elgin, a social studies and television production teacher at the school, has four strong returning players and one prominent transfer and the primary goal is for the squad to earn its first state tournament berth since 2011, Elgin’s rookie year.
Nick Infanti, who also plays baseball for the school, will be the Coyotes’ top player based on his 38.5 average for nine holes last fall. Returners Andrew Kostecka, Ryan Free and Brandon Liu will be joined by senior Justin Diggs, who transferred from St. John’s. Clarksburg, which will open the season on Aug. 27, practices at Little Bennett.
“Last year Nick qualified for states as an individual, but our team did not make the cut,” Elgin said. “We’re hoping to finish first or second in the division and then get back to states this year. We have four good returning starters and I think our transfer (Diggs) is going to help.’
Albert Einstein, which finished 15-1 in the Kohut division last fall, has three returning starters, senior Noah Simons, junior Alise Herlambang and sophomore Matthew Taylor and newcomers Rose Donnelly and Malik Selic. Einstein won the Montgomery County Scramble last fall at Poolesville and opens the season on Aug. 27 at P.B. Dye against Clarksburg, Paint Branch and Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
“For a team in the lower division to win the Montgomery County scramble was our highlight for last year,” said Einstein eighth-year coach David Conrad, a music teacher at the school. “We made a couple of birdies at the end to win by two strokes. It basically was going to take a miracle and we got one.”