J. Carroll tired of regular routine

Regular-season champsseek elusive playoff title

March 20, 2000|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

John Carroll golf coach Henry Mountain hopes this is the year his team finally captures the elusive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association team title.

In 1998, the Patriots won the MIAA regular season, only to be beaten by Gilman in the championship match of the league playoffs. Last year, John Carroll again won the regular season but lost in the championship match to St. Paul's.

This year, the Patriots have their top five players back and welcome a promising group of newcomers.

"On paper, we look pretty good," Mountain said. "But unless you go out and do it, I don't care what's on paper."

Unlike area public schools, which play varsity golf in the fall, the MIAA, comprised of private schools, holds its golf season in the spring, culminating in May with a 54-hole individual championship and a four-team playoff for the team title.

St. Paul's swept the A Conference team and individual titles last year and returns three juniors who are Division I prospects -- Ben Phelps, Rob Ellrich and Steve Colnitis. Phelps tied for fourth in the MIAA individual championship last year.

But, St. Paul's coach Rick Collins said, "I don't know if we'll have the depth to win it again."

Depth was essential to the Crusaders' success last season. In the championship match, St. Paul's lost at No. 1 and No. 2, but recorded three wins and a tie from No. 3 through No. 6 en route to a 12-9 win. And the MIAA individual championship was won by Mike Grimm, a senior who played No. 5 in the Crusaders lineup.

John Carroll's title push will be led by junior B. J. Muth and senior Chuck Brueggemann, who held the top two spots in the lineup last year. Other returning starters include juniors Dan Lynch and Ryan Grymes and sophomore Tom Watson. Brueggemann's younger brother, Alex, could crack the starting lineup as a freshman.

If seniority is a factor, Gilman should contend. The Greyhounds' senior-laden lineup is led by Danny Schochor, who will play at Brown next year. Overall, seven of 10 players return for Gilman coach Dan Christian.

Calvert Hall could mount a challenge under first-year coach Brian Meyer, the teaching pro at Pine Ridge. Meyer inherits a team with five returning starters, including Chris Baloga, the MIAA individual runner-up last year as a sophomore.

Mount St. Joseph and Loyola both will rely on underclassmen. The Gaels missed the playoffs last season for just the second time in the past seven years, but coach Mike Dooley returns a stronger team this year led by seniors David Kirby and Dan Lenahan and junior Jeff Parry.

Over the winter, Parry played on the Nike Junior Tour at Pinehurst, N.C., where the competition included, among others, St. Paul's top players.

Loyola's most experienced players are juniors Billy Hammond, Jimmy Pataki and Drew Heiderman, and sophomore John Patinella is coming off a top-20 finish at the MIAA tournament.

St. Mary's moved up from the B Conference last year, and McDonogh joins the MIAA's top tier this year after winning the B Conference in 1999.

"The A [Conference] will be very tough, but we'll give it a go," McDonogh coach Wright Abbot said. The transition should be eased by sophomore Steve Krug, a two-handicap whom Abbot calls "a legitimate A Conference No. 1 player."

With McDonogh moving up, Curley becomes the team to beat in the B Conference. The Friars lost to McDonogh in the championship match last year, and seniors Greg Samuels and Bill Boling return for coach Dave Ball. Freshman Ryan Richardson already has shown promise.

Spalding, eliminated in the playoffs by Curley last year, should challenge again.

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