Westminster is no longer a sure shot Golf preview

September 17, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

It wasn't long ago that it was a lock the Westminster Owls golf team would come away with the Central Maryland Conference title on its way to another state playoff appearance.

Last year made it six conference titles in six years.

The thought of another Carroll high school team getting in its way didn't cross anyone's mind until Liberty formed a team last season.

Like most first-year teams, the Lions struggled with only one win, but came on in the end with a solid showing in the regionals, finishing 10th of 23 teams.

A year's experience with eight golfers back, a course -- Glade Valley in Walkersville -- they can call home and a summer's worth of hard work have put the Lions near the top.

Westminster finds itself in a rebuilding mode for the first time in a long while with its top two golfers a sophomore and freshman.

The Lions opened the season earlier this month with a 15-stroke win over the Owls.

"We're real excited," Liberty coach Cliff Trone said.

"I knew we'd be fairly strong if the boys continued to practice over the summer, which they did. The first day of practice at the range I could see the improvement. I said to myself this was going to be a fun year."

The Lions are led by senior Jason Burt, and Trone has plenty of depth. Burt opened the season with a 1-under-par 35 in the win against Westminster.

"He handles himself very well on the golf course, and his maturity is his strength," Trone said. "He just doesn't let one or two bad holes bother the rest of his game."

Junior Jeremy Allen is returnee who will shoot regularly in the 40s. Also back are seniors Brian Lingle, Andy Thompson, Keith Bowen and Joe Monar, along with juniors Chris Devins and Jason Brower.

"It's nice to have everyone back. This is a great bunch of boys and we're really looking forward to regionals," Trone said.

"Last year, there was a lot of pressure with the guys being out there all by themselves. They really matured and learned from last year and are now more used to the pressure."

It's a different kind of season for Owls co-coaches Guy Stull and Jeff Ibex. Gone are five seniors -- four of whom were starters -- and the thought this season is to establish and instill confidence into a young group.

"We don't have the really strong golfer like a Todd Dorsey or Dean Blankenship that we've had in the past," Stull said.

"Our biggest job this year will be to instill confidence. We have a young and inexperienced group that is working very hard, but learning there is a big difference between practice and match play."

Sophomore Matt Laczkowski has been the Owls' most consistent golfer so far and is playing at No. 1. Behind him is freshman Chris Long, who Stull says is the best freshman to come along in some time.

Stull and Ibex will look to seniors Nick Horton, Steve Hayes and Eric Minor for leadership. Junior Tim Long and sophomore Wayne Mann also return. Newcomers are juniors Matt Taylor, Shawn Morrison, Matt Gill and Dan Horichs and freshman Zachary Taylor.

Stull said Liberty and Linganore appear to be the teams to beat in the CMC. As for the Owls, he would like to see them get on a hot streak and sneak up on some teams.

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