Panthers to get shot at state title Young North Carroll in tourney for first time

October 13, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

North Carroll, the most improved squad in the county, will be making its first trip to the state golf tournament as a team when the annual championship is held next Monday-Tuesday at the University of Maryland GC in College Park.

The Panthers, with four sophomore scorers, just got in under the required 340 score needed to advance, with a 339 to tie for third in District V of Class 3A-4A. Westminster won the title with a runaway 314.

Francis Scott Key (337) tied Mount Hebron for the Class 1A-2A title, and qualified as a team for the second straight year.

"Maturity is a big factor," said co-coach Greg Knill of this year's North Carroll group. "With last year's freshmen core, we knew we'd be in the hunt for the county title, but we did not expect to be this competitive this fast.

"We have a really good mix of players, ones who can't stand to lose, and they push each other. I like their togetherness, and they have enjoyed winning.

"You have to give our seniors, Claire Brumfitt and Scott Wunder, credit for that."

Where the two might have expected to be sent out as the Nos. 1-2 players, it hasn't worked out like that, but they have turned it into a positive factor. "They understand the situation, and have handled it very well. They make us deeper and stronger," said Knill.

Knill also cited instances that may make them key players next week.

Brumfitt started a recent match with a high score on the first hole, but settled down to shoot pars and bogeys the rest of the match. Her coach explained that she would not have been able to recover like that in the past.

Wunder, who did not play well in the district tournament, came in later to tell his coaches he wanted out of the next match because he needed some time to fix his swing. He went over to Piney Branch GC, where he works, and met a friend who helped him out.

"The next day, he was totally different," Knill said. "He knew what he needed to do, was able to get it done, and I think he is ready for a good showing."

From the beginning, coaches Knill and Craig Walker, in his first year with the program, knew they needed consistent play from people who had to control their emotions -- block out the bad shot, the bad hole -- something which was not there last year.

"We knew they had tremendous athletic talent, but they needed to learn course management," Knill said. "So far, we've usually had one player go low, and the others play well against the ones with whom they were matched. For the most part, they've kept it close."

Sophomore Carli Gordon has emerged as the team's top player, and, in addition to Brumfitt and Wunder, is joined by classmates Fred Johnson, Kevin Martin, and Matt Pohlhaus.

Gordon, second-low girl in the district meet with an 82 at Timbers at Troy, recently shot par-36 in a meet at Oakmont Green. Last year, she was second in the girls division at the state meet.

Westminster has developed as a team along the same lines as North Carroll, in that coaches Guy Stull and Jeff Ibex can put out some strong players, and not be sure of their order of finish.

The pack includes juniors Patrick Buengner, Nick Hohenwarter, and 1997 district titlist Brett Whitson, plus sophomore Jon-David Byers, and rapidly improving freshman John Wah. Another state qualifier is sophomore Beth Biden.

At Francis Scott Key, seniors Bryan Brilhart and Michael Darr are the leaders for coach Bill Welch's club, backed by senior Mark Strine, and juniors Jason Cashen and Dennis Smith.

For next week's state meet, aside from the Key, North Carroll, and Westminster teams, Matt Vasilenko of Liberty will go as an individual. With 82 as the cutoff, he shot 80 at the district qualifier.

Tight races

Unbeaten Liberty (6-2 overall, 3-0 county) gets a chance in boys soccer to distance itself from its closest pursuers, Thomas Johnson and North Carroll, in the Central Maryland Conference with games tonight at Westminster and home against North Carroll Thursday. North Carroll (5-2-1, 2-1) is home against Thomas Johnson (7-2, 3-1) tonight.

tTC For the girls, South Carroll, the only one of the five county schools with a winning record (6-2), is at Urbana tonight, and home against Westminster Thursday. A key match could come Oct. 21, when South Carroll is home against North Carroll. The latter started slowly, but has gone 4-1-1 in its past six games.

In field hockey, North Carroll (8-0) is home against Thomas Johnson today and Liberty Thursday, then gets Westminster twice next week, away Tuesday, home Thursday. The county's other top team, Francis Scott Key (7-1-1 before playing Walkersville yesterday) will be home against Middletown Thursday.

In volleyball, Key (7-1) was at North Hagerstown last night, and goes to South Hagerstown tomorrow night. North Carroll (8-1) is home against Linganore tonight and at South Carroll Thursday, while Liberty (7-2), stung by South Carroll 3-1 last Thursday, will be at Frederick tonight, and at Thomas Johnson Thursday.

Pub Date: 10/13/98

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