March 21, 2001|By Bo Smolka

The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association golf season has a familiar look about it this year. Defending champion John Carroll has lost just one player from last year, and runner-up Calvert Hall returns six seniors.

Loyola returns five of its top six players, and St. Paul's welcomes back three senior starters, including two who have signed with Division I schools.

With that kind of experience and talent stocking the rosters, it's no wonder St. Paul's coach Rick Collins calls this "the strongest A Conference in years."

Unlike area public schools, which play golf in the fall, the MIAA holds its season in the spring, culminating with a 54-hole individual tournament and a four-team playoff for the team title. In team matches, each squad fields six players, who are paired with their opponents in three foursomes over 12 holes.

John Carroll, the runner-up in 1999 and 2000, edged Calvert Hall, 11-10, in the A Conference championship match last year.

The Patriots have graduated last year's individual champion Chuck Bruegemann, but return his younger brother Alex, a talented sophomore. Junior Tom Watson and senior Dan Lynch also are back, and junior Brian Thomas has come on strong.

Calvert Hall is primed for another title run after going 13-1 last year. Senior Chris Baloga, the MIAA individual runner-up as a sophomore and third-place finisher last year, leads the way. Other senior starters include A. J. Bachmann, Justin Woodward, Josh Prokopik, Drew Vetter and Mike Kessler.

Loyola lost out on the playoffs last year in a tiebreaker, but with a host of seniors returning, that should change. Still, coach Marty Stewart isn't ready to be declared the favorite. "The last time I said `We could be the team to beat,' everybody went out and beat us," Stewart said.

The senior-laden lineup is headed up by a junior: John Patinella, who emerged as Loyola's No. 1 player last year as a sophomore. Seniors David Atkinson, Jimmy Pataki, Drew Heiderman and Billy Hammond also return.

St. Paul's, the 1999 champion, has three Division I prospects in Steve Colnitis (signed with Notre Dame), Ben Phelps (Towson), and Rob Ellrich. At the MIAA individual tournament last year, Phelps (second), Colnitis (third) and Mike Quick (fifth) all turned in top-five efforts, and the Crusaders led all schools with six of the 20 finalists.

Mount St. Joseph made the playoffs last year and welcomes back senior Jeff Parry, and juniors Del Thebaud and Steve Homans. Parry impressed last summer when he won the 15-17 age bracket at the Jimmy Flattery tournament at Hunt Valley.

McDonogh has lost its No. 1 player, Steve Krug, who transferred to Dulaney and went on to win the Baltimore County individual title last fall. Junior Justin Jarvis assumes the No. 1 spot, and four-year starter Lance Staib is back. Junior Keith Parker, a former baseball player out for golf for the first time, should help.

Among A Conference schools, Gilman was hit hardest by graduation. Junior Sean Grant, a three-year starter, is the likely No. 1 player. Seniors Andy Sabatier and Mac Caplan also have experience.

Archbishop Spalding has elevated to the A Conference after going undefeated (13-0) and winning the B Conference last season. Senior Steve Case, tied for fifth in the individual tournament last year, brings a superb short game. Christy Larrimore, one of the few girls to compete in MIAA golf, played in the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur Championship last summer.

Boys' Latin, which lost in the B Conference final to Spalding last season, will make a run at the title behind senior Joe Smith and sophomore Chris Kamphaus.

St. Mary's, down from the A Conference, hopes to challenge with Colin Houck, Brad Gould and Charles Bisland.

Curley, Pallotti, Severn and Sts. Peter and Paul round out the B Conference.

Players to watch

Chris Baloga (Senior, Calvert Hall) Back-to-back top-three finishes at MIAA tourney

Christy Larrimore (Junior, Archbishop Spalding) Nationally ranked junior holds her own against the boys

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