Amid changing MIAA landscape, St. Paul's holding place as favorite

`C' Conference eliminated

11 teams will challenge Crusaders' `A' standing

High School


April 08, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association golf has a different look from last spring, but one thing remains the same - St. Paul's is still the team to beat.

The MIAA has consolidated the schedule from a three-conference format into two. League officials have done away with the C Conference, moving all 20 of the teams into the A and B conferences. In addition, the Red and Gold divisions of the A Conference, instituted last year, are gone.

There are 12 teams in the A Conference, but St. Paul's remains the team that everyone's watching. Coach Rick Collins' group is the defending conference team champion - and the winner of three of the past four titles - with several players having moved on to play at the college level in recent years.

The Crusaders have jumped off to a 5-0 start, despite being tested by a very tough schedule. St. Paul's is playing strong teams from the Washington/Virginia area like Woodberry Forest (Saturday at Caves Valley) and Gonzaga. But the Crusaders have what might be the MIAA's best player in Greg Rodgers.

The junior is ranked 12th nationally and last year finished second to John Carroll's Alex Brueggemann in the MIAA tournament after winning the previous season. Brueggemann won by three strokes last spring, but Rodgers already has beaten him this year.

"Greg is a team player," Collins said. "He has taken his game to another level. He's more consistent and his stroke average has [improved]."

St. Paul's fields a strong lineup that will support Rodgers. Sophomores David Feeley, Mike O'Neil and Tyler Bare plus junior Trip Bare and senior Jon Kassolis give the Crusaders a solid group. Kassolis is headed to Dickinson next year, and the younger players give Collins plenty of punch alongside Rodgers.

Rodgers again will compete against his John Carroll rival next month in the MIAA tournament, but Brueggemann has been fighting a flu for the past several days that weakened him during early matches. New John Carroll coach George Algard isn't worried and said Brueggemann should be rolling again shortly.

"Alex is my anchor," Algard said. "I start everything off with him. I expect him to kind of roll through the rest of the season. I have high expectations for him."

John Carroll has a strong lineup that includes junior Kevin Tehan, senior Scott Rytter, juniors Matt Murphy and Derek Lynch plus freshman Kevin Hentz. The Patriots won't be relying solely on the talents of Brueggemann and Tehan, as they have the balance that Algard believes is crucial to their success.

Mount St. Joseph lost two top players from its 11-4 team of a year ago that was the A Conference runner-up, but coach Mike Dooley still has several talented golfers.

Junior Matt Bassler moved from the No. 3 spot to No. 1 after the loss of two seniors, and his improved game should lead the Gaels this spring. Sophomore Ryan Fields, freshman Josh Jenkins, senior Andy Lucas, junior James McBride plus senior Matt Hill give St. Joe talent from top to bottom.

The Gaels are 1-2 this season, losing to Loyola - led by standout Pat Higgins - and John Carroll (13 1/2 -7 1/2 for both matches), but the younger players are starting to settle in.

"We're just off to a slow start," Dooley said. "We're kind of learning on the fly, but we'll be fine."

Boys' Latin won the B Conference last year, but the Lakers have moved up to the A Conference along with Archbishop Curley, St. Mary's (the other B Conference finalist) and Sts. Peter and Paul. Boys' Latin probably won't be fighting for the A Conference title right away, which leaves the B Conference open for Severn or Annapolis Area Christian School to take charge.

Severn (0-0-1) lost to Boys' Latin in a sudden-death extra-hole playoff in last year's B Conference semifinal. The Admirals have most of their top players back, giving coach Tom Heslin a good lineup. Christian Freymeyer is the team's top player, and is coming off a good summer when he won the first Anne Arundel County tournament for public and private school players.

Freshman Adam Wieczorek will be at No. 2 with Heslin's son, junior Mike, and senior Dave Neighoff fighting for the No. 3 spot. The Admirals have plenty of depth for the coach to use throughout the season in the hopes of reclaiming the title they won two years ago.

"I've got a good group of golfers," the older Heslin said. "They're young but solid. They're ready to play."

But Severn will have to confront AACS --- which it already has played to a tie, 10 1/2 -10 1/2 , last week. The Eagles won the C Conference last spring and moved up to the B Conference this year.

Senior Casey Cook, sophomore Scott Senerius and freshman Brice Busse will help coach Josh Rivers put a strong group on the course. AACS (1-0-1) scored a 16-5 victory over Key School earlier, and Rivers isn't too worried about moving up to the B Conference.

"I don't think it's going to be that much of an adjustment," Rivers said. "[Because of] the changes, most of the teams are teams we played last year."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.