Before the golf season officially opened last month, Arundel coach Carol Nutt already was taking aim at the county school golf title.
In her sights was a Broadneck team vying for its third consecutive county championship and fourth straight district crown.
"Right now, I've got all my ducks lined up in the water, and I'm pleased with what I see," Nutt said in the preseason. "Broadneck is the team to beat, but they're not unbeatable. I have a lot of depth and a lot of people to choose from."
Nutt had plenty of low scores to select from yesterday as her Gary Carpenter-led Wildcats claimed five of the top six spots and the county golf championship at Dwight D.Eisenhower Golf Course in Crownsville.
"They're coming along nicely and they're proving my confidence was merited," said Nutt, who sawher team post a score of 307 -- 30 strokes better than the runner-upBruins.
"I felt from the beginning of the season that we should be pretty strong, but being a golfer myself, I realized how easy it isto let the stress get to you."
Carpenter, who won the individual county title last year as a sophomore by stunning a senior-laden field with a five-stroke victory, needed three holes of a sudden-death playoff to repeat as champion.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound player was paired with fellow Wildcat Kurt Osborne, who also finished with a roundof 75.
Osborne hooked his drive on the first hole of the playoff,but recovered by chipping his second shot just shy of the fringe. Carpenter, who crushed his initial drive, left his second shot well short of the green, but saved par along with his counterpart.
Two more pars on the second hole moved the duo to hole No. 3, a 440-yard parfive with a severe dog-leg right. Osborne's iron shot from the tee hooked onto the adjacent eighth fairway while Carpenter's four-iron shot landed safely in the fairway.
Osborne attempted to thread his second shot through a set of trees only to have it catch some timber. Carpenter pulled a fairway wood from his his bag on his second shot and paid for his aggressiveness when his ball found a bunker.
Osborne found more trees on his third shot but a favorable bounce left himwith a tree-line lie, approximately 80 yards from the green. Osborneput himself back in the running when his shot from the rough landed within one-putt distance on the green.
Carpenter, who on Monday led the Wildcats to an A Division title with a round of 37 at Crofton Country Club, exited the sand trap safely and followed with a chip shot 18 inches to the hole. That put added pressure on his teammate to sink his 12-footer.
Osborne pushed his putt just right of the cup and settled for bogey while Carpenter picked up his par and low medalist honors.
"I don't usually make that many birdies and I don't usually blow up as much," said Carpenter, who finished with four birdiesand three double-bogeys. "I'm more of a consistent player, so it wasa different kind of round for me.
"In the playoff, he tried to give it to me and I tried to give it right back."
Carpenter, who ledhis Wildcats to a District V championship Oct. 7 with his low round of 72 at Wakefield Valley Golf Course in Westminster, will try to complete golf's version of the Triple Crown when he tees off in the state tournament Oct. 24 and 25 at the University of Maryland Golf Course.
"I haven't played well at the states the past two years, but I will this season," said Carpenter. "I'm trying to win it. I've really workedon my game a lot. I've picked up a lot of length since last year and I've learned to control my emotions more."
While Carpenter and Osborne provided the day's drama, it was the rest of the Arundel contingent that made the lopsided victory possible. The Wildcats applied the scores of Kris Niemi (79) and Andy Furtado (78) toward their team score, but could just have well used those of Graham Niemi (80) and Paul Willis (81).
"This is probably the deepest team we've had in my three years at Arundel," said Carpenter, "I knew who Broadneck had and I knew we could compete with them. I knew it would be tough the whole way.
"What's really helped us is,we've had a couple of people shoot the numbers we didn't think they would shoot. Everyone hascontributed."
Nutt concurred, adding, "We're getting tougher and tougher, and I think we're in very good position for states now. We're very deep."
1. Arundel (307); 2. Broadneck (337); 3. Severna Park (347); 4. Old Mill (356); 5. Annapolis (362); 6. Glen Burnie (364); 7. South River (387); 8. North County (388); 9. Chesapeake (405); 10. Meade (419).
1. Carpenter (AR) 75*; 2. Osborne (AR) 75; 3. Furtado (AR) 78; 4. K. Niemi (AR) 79; 5. Tengwell (BN) 80; 6. G. Niemi (AR) 80; 7. McKnight (BN) 81; 8. Willis (AR) 81; 9. Morgan (SP) 81; 10. Johansen (GB) 84; 11. Orso (SP)84; 12. Brooks (GB) 84; 13. Johnson (AN) 85; 14. White (OM) 85; 15. Lynard (OM) 85.
* won on third hole of sudden-death playoff