Young programs could push Westminster North Carroll, Key boast depth, strength


September 06, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Two matches into the golf season, North Carroll is showing that its run at the end of last season was no fluke and the county power structure is on its way to becoming more balanced.

Before any matches, Francis Scott Key and North Carroll were projected as possible challengers to perennial champion Westminster. Compared to Westminster, which has had a team for at least 15 years, the other schools' squads are in their infancy.

Key, in its fourth season, is dominated by seniors who have been in the program from the start, and third-year entry North Carroll has a bunch of sophomores who helped the team show dramatic improvement a year ago.

Liberty (six years) should be stronger, but South Carroll, impressive for a first-year team last season, may have to be patient as a young team develops.

North Carroll (2-0) has displayed strength and depth in beating Westminster (1-2) and Frederick. The winners, who set successive school scoring records in their last three matches of 1997, did it again against Westminster.

The score against the Owls was 210-217, a far cry from the 212-238 opening loss last season, and another definite drop from the previous records of 223, 222, and 214.

"We expected our scores; we just didn't know how well Westminster would play," said first-year coach Craig Walker, who left football to help holdover co-coach Greg Knill direct this team. "Those were the rounds we saw in practice."

Against Frederick, the five-player total was off that mark but still good for a 219-240 triumph over its home course, Oakmont Green.

In its second outing, Westminster clipped nine strokes off its opening total, finishing in the middle (208) of a tri-match with Waynesboro (199) and South Carroll (238).

Team-by-team reports:

Liberty: Coaches John Magee and Scott Kohr had 34 candidates, an exceptionally high number, and no seniors. What they do have is a team that has improved significantly.

"We had 46s and 47s [for nine holes] last year and had to count 50 or worse in all but two matches," said Magee. "That shouldn't happen this year. We have players who gained tournament experience over the summer, and overall it's a good group."

Going into the opening match with Urbana Tuesday, juniors Mike McManus and Pete Genovese are the top two, but the quality scrambling for the remaining places in such that four or five NTC different players might take turns in the scoring positions.

"I wouldn't have a problem shuffling as many as 10 players," Magee said.

Francis Scott Key: Three regulars from the school's first state tournament squad, seniors Mike Darr, a two-time state entry, and Bryan Brilhart, and junior Jason Cashen, are back.

Then there are seniors Scott Zentz, who was injured much of last year, Jason Bowman and Mark Strine, and improved junior Dennis Smith. Two newcomers expected to help are senior Jason Myers and freshman Kevin Mastalerz.

"We have an experienced pool of players who are five shots better than a year ago," says coach Bill Welch. "Individually, I think Darr has a chance to do some some things this season, and as team, we expect to do well. To do it, though, we'll have to stay on the right track."

North Carroll: The Panthers showed some depth in those opening two victories, four players registering top-two finishes.

Those leaders were seniors Claire Brumfitt and Scott Wunder and sophomores Carli Gordon and Kevin Martin. They are joined by several more sophomores, including Brett Johnson and Jeff Yingling, plus Matt Pohlhaus, a scorer in the regionals last fall.

South Carroll: Two juniors, three sophomores, and a freshman constitute the first six players. Coach Chris Howard has had to find replacements for three starters from a year ago.

The chief holdovers are junior Chris Vasse and sophomore Geoff Sanzenbacher, backed by sophomore Jason Gorsuch. Among the newcomers are sophomore Josh Loar, and freshmen Jason Embrey, Jason Fogle, and C. J. Toldon.

Westminster: "We're young and inexperienced," said co-coach Jeff Ibex. "Right now in our top six, we have two returning starters, two with some experience. Regulars among the holdovers are juniors Brett Whitson, defending regional champion; Patrick Buenger, and Nick Hohenwarter, and sophomore Jon-David Byers.

Whitson was the Owls' low scorer in both meets, backed by Byers, although freshman John Wah put himself in the mix when he knocked off six strokes with a 41 in the tri-meet.

"Whitson will be a solid player for us, Byers is a hard worker who could challenge for No. 1, and Hohenwarter, who won the County Open, had a tremendous summer," Ibex said. Wah, too, had a good tournament summer and is adjusting to his first school season.

Pub Date: 9/06/98

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