COLLEGE PARK — Thick fog postponed the shotgun start of the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association state golf tournament for nearly two hours Friday morning, but the delay did little in hindering Arundel inits quest for the title.
The Division V champion Wildcats posted a team score of 655, edging runner-up Damascus of Montgomery County by two strokes for the team title.
"This is exciting," said Arundel coach Carol Nutt, whose Wildcatsswept all postseason honors. "This is not only the first time an Anne Arundel County team has won the states, but the first time a team from District V has won it, so that just shows that there is another side to the state."
After 18 holes on Thursday, Arundel led the 17-team field with a score of 327. Damascus trailed the Wildcats by fivestrokes while defending state champion Walt Whitman was in third with 333. The county's other contingent, Broadneck, was fifth after 18 holes and finished the tournament in eighth with 687.
The Wildcats'five-stroke lead did not come courtesy of their county and district champion, Gary Carpenter, but from freshman Paul Wills, who finished the first round with a 75. Carpenter shot an opening round of 78 followed by teammates Kurt Osborne (84) and Graham Niemi (90).
"I think we had a mental advantage going in today (Friday) because we didn'tcareer it to be in first, and we were in first despite of how poorlywe played," said Nutt. "All of them, with the exception of Paul (Wills), were eager to get out here today and better their score."
Carpenter managed to skim four strokes off his game on Friday as he finished with a round of 74. Carpenter's two-day total of 152 earned him a fourth-place trophy, nine strokes behind low medalist champion Colyn Keller of Walkersville, who set a state record with a closing roundof 68.
"I've played with him (Keller) before, and when he's hot he's hot," said Carpenter. "He's long enough off the tee that he can turn this course into a pitch-and-putt.
"Overall, I was happy with the way I played today. I finally found my putter. I couldn't buy a putt yesterday. I played better today. It was still an inconsistent round today, but I played much better."
Wills had trouble living up to the standards he had set for himself the day before as he shot 42 on the front and 41 on the back to finish with a 12-over round of 83.
"It was unbelievable," Wills said of his opening round. "Everything fell. Today was just the opposite. I couldn't putt, and I couldn'thit the ball straight. Maybe I just tried to shoot the same as yesterday."
Osborne, who shot a 75 at the county tournament to force a sudden-death playoff with Carpenter, did shoot "the same as yesterday" as he finished with a similarly discouraging 84.
"I'm happy we won, but I don't feel like I really contributed," said Osborne.
"I wish I could have contributed a little more."
Niemi admitted he would liked to have seen lower numbers on his score card as well, but he wasn't about to let a few missed putts spoil his day in the sun.
"I'm the happiest guy in the world and I played awful," said Niemi. "I didn't play up to my expectations and I am still very happy. It's the best feeling in the world.
"This is the first time I've ever won anything like this, and I don't know if I'm going to be able to wipe this smile off my face for a week. I'm ecstatic."
Carpenter said, "I can't believe it. At the beginning of the season, I would neverhave thought it. It's the icing on the cake. I can't explain it."
Broadneck's Matt Tengwell shot a 79 on Thursday but saw his game unravel on Friday when he shot an 89.
David Orso of Severna Park, whofinished tied for sixth last year at the University of Maryland course, shot an 82-76 to give him a 158 for the tournament.
Annapolis'Chris Johnson, who like Orso, competed as an individual in the tourney, shot a 79 on Friday after suffering through a round of 94 a day earlier.
Chesapeake's Liz Keenan, the lone female representative from the county, found her game in the second round as she posted a score of 96.
Other individual county performers included Old Mill's Rich Lynard (92-85-177), South River's Kevin Richardson (86-79-166) and Glen Burnie's Shane Brooks (94-94-188).