Titlists hit same low, feel similar high

Grilli only 2nd to match boys score, but 75 can't lift Pikesville to team crown

Class 2A-1A state golf championship

October 21, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

COLLEGE PARK -- Pikesville's Michelle Grilli and Aberdeen's Patrick Hinch shot equally memorable rounds yesterday at the Class 2A-1A state golf championship.

Hinch won the boys division with a 4-over-par 75 on the University of Maryland course, edging Liberty's Andrew Rowden by one stroke. Grilli cruised to a 12-shot victory in the girls division. From the shorter tees, she also shot a 75 and became only the second girl to match the winning score of a boy.

But while Grilli was delighted with the strong round, she would have been happier if her Pikesville team would have fared a bit better. J.M. Bennett repeated as the team champion (318), four shots ahead of Grilli and second-place Pikesville.

This is the first year for the tournament's new split-class format. The 4A-3A golfers play today in a one-day tournament whereas all four classes competed together in years past.

Grilli had little trouble winning her championship. The sophomore breezed to a victory over Poly's Nikeya Peay (87), Smithsburg's Andrea Grier (88) and Stephen Decatur's Chelsea Betts (88) on the par-71 course.

In addition, Grilli became the second girl to tie for the best overall score in the 22 years that girls have officially competed in the state tournament. According to Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, Clare Dolan of Seneca Valley tied Magruder's Doug Ridgeway at 149 over the then-two-day tournament in 1984.

"My irons helped me a lot ... they helped me be consistent," Grilli said. "I had some three-putts, but I made up for it. I wasn't thinking about boys' scores, and I didn't know about it until the [end of the round]."

Grilli struggled with a 40 on the front before shooting a 35 on the back.

Pikesville coach Nice DePace also got strong performances from Adam Foreman (79), Ryan Schaftel (81) and Alex Per (87), but it wasn't enough to catch J.M. Bennett. John Martin (78), Greg Leidy (79), Drew Thorsten (80) and Gordon Kretser (81) combined for a consistent performance.

But the top overall performance for boys belonged to Hinch. The Aberdeen sophomore tied for ninth last year at the state tournament but improved throughout this fall.

Hinch took third in the Harford County tournament and second in the District competition before playing a solid round yesterday. He made two birdies, including a 40-foot putt with a tough left-to-right break on the par-5 13th hole.

"I didn't feel like I played that well today," Hinch said. "There were a couple of shots that I didn't hit the way I wanted to. I talked to my mom before I played, and she said [not to] worry about anything and just play."

Aberdeen coach Kevin Blythe said Hinch did just what his mother said. Blythe has been impressed with Hinch's low-key demeanor throughout the season.

"He's just always so calm and never gets shaken," Blythe said. "Even when he hit a bad shot, it didn't lead to another bad shot."

Blair Kennedy of Howard, Jarrod Page of North Harford and Gerry Butler of Stephen Decatur tied for third at 77.

This was the first state tournament for Rowden, who said his biggest afterthought was missing a 4-foot putt on the final hole that could have tied him for first. The senior remained solid on fairways and greens throughout the day.

"This is the best round I've ever played," Rowden said.

Said Liberty coach John Magee: "He's worked really hard, and he's never quit and never let up. I'm glad for him."

North Harford and Liberty were the only other local teams that scored well in the tournament. Walkersville took third (332) and North Harford tied for fourth with Southern-Garrett (335). Liberty was sixth (340).

Baltimore City made its debut in the state tournament this year with strong performances from Peay and City's Wilbert Lynn.

Peay struggled at times with her approach shots, but the senior still took second in the girls division. Lynn tied for 15th on the boys side with an 80, just five shots off Hinch's winning score. Lynn and Peay both participate in the Baltimore City Golf Club and represent District 9. Golf is not an official varsity sport in the city.

"Both of them are very talented, and I think both of them felt some pressure being the first representatives of the city," Baltimore City Golf Club coach Shirley Williams said. "I was very proud of the way they hung in there."

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