St. Paul's, Rodgers aiming at pin again

Crusaders eye 4th straight MIAA A title

top golfer looks to make it 3 of 4

High Schools

April 01, 2004|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

St. Paul's golf team and its top player, Greg Rodgers, have simple goals for this season.

The Crusaders are looking to win their fourth straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship - and fifth in six years. St. Paul's came into the season on a roll, having gone 16-0 last year and carrying a 26-match winning streak.

Rodgers is trying to close out his spectacular high school career with his third MIAA individual title. The senior, headed for Notre Dame next year on a golf scholarship, won the title as a freshman and did it again last year, bouncing back after a second-place showing his sophomore year.

St. Paul's coach Rick Collins said those goals will drive his team and Rodgers throughout the season.

"Nobody's ever won it four years in a row," Collins said. "And nobody's ever won the individual title three times."

The Crusaders have a solid lineup with seniors Rodgers and Trip Bare (third in MIAA individuals) plus juniors Michael O'Neil (fourth in MIAAs), David Feeley and Tyler Bare, along with freshman Jon Zorn and junior John Lalley. St. Paul's depth will be difficult for any team to overcome.

"The reason we've been successful is that we've had that wonderful depth," Collins said. "On any given day ... it would not surprise me if at the end of a match that my No. 6 guy beat my No. 2."

John Carroll, which finished second in last year's championship match, returns several strong golfers despite losing three from last season.

Senior Kevin Tehan will play at No. 1. Tehan finished second behind Rodgers in last year's MIAAs and has committed to play for Towson University next year.

Sophomore Kevin Hentz and seniors Matt Murphy, Derek Lynch, Harrison Fowler and Matt Fitzpatrick comprise a Patriots lineup that hopes to get another shot at St. Paul's.

"To climb that hurdle over at St. Paul's, we really have to step up and play as a team," John Carroll coach George Algard said.

Calvert Hall, Mount St. Joseph, Loyola and McDonogh also should contend.

For Calvert Hall, experience should be a plus. Senior Matt Clemmens will play at No. 1, with classmates Frank Olszewski, Mark Lorenzo, Topper Fox, Sean Franklin and freshman Pat Moxley helping out.

Olszewski and Lorenzo are four-year starters, and the experience will help a Cardinals team that missed the final four by a half game last year.

"We're stronger this year because of the experience," Calvert Hall coach Bernie McGinn said. "I think we should be all right."

Loyola upset Calvert Hall last week, and the Dons are benefiting from the strong play of sophomore Brett Keller and freshman Roger Waesche at the top two spots. Keller and Waesche should give the Dons a solid 1-2 punch for a long time.

"They have three years to play together," coach Marty Stewart said of the pair that carried much of the load in the win over Calvert Hall. "They're going to be real good at one and two."

Seniors Matt Waskiewicz, John Bert, Bryan Cosgrove and others also should give the Dons depth. The big question will be how well the bottom of the lineup does.

Senior Matt Bassler is expected to lead Mount St. Joseph. He won the Optimists junior world championships in August in Palm Beach (Fla.) Gardens against a group of players from the United States and other countries. Junior Ryan Fields and sophomore Mike Bassler also will help.

Sophomores Tyler Kirkwood and Will Barnett will lead a McDonogh team that's younger than the others but still has plenty of talent.

The B Conference is expected to feature another showdown between defending champion Severn and Annapolis Area Christian School. Severn is trying for its second straight title and third in four years while AACS wants to take back the title it won two years ago.

Last year, these two teams were about as close as possible. Severn tied AACS in the regular-season match but edged it by a point for the title. For the champion Admirals, the biggest question will be depth - specifically how the bottom half of the lineup will manage after the loss of starters Nos. 4-8.

But Severn coach Tom Heslin likes what he has seen so far.

"The kids have really come in and work hard," Heslin said. "They love the game, and the love of the game really makes them practice, and that's where it all takes place."

The Admirals can build around three solid golfers at the top of their lineup. Junior Christian Freymeyer returns at No. 1. He was an All-MIAA B Conference pick last year and has been strong so far this season.

Sophomore Adam Wieczorek returns at No. 2 and senior Mike Heslin will be at No. 3. Freshman Zach Pfinsgraff and junior D.J. Barnes are set at 4 and 5, while four players will battle for the sixth spot in the lineup.

"The key is focus, just focus," Heslin said. "It's so easy to get distracted. [AACS] has a bunch of talented kids and so do we. Beyond that, it's just a flip of the coin."

AACS coach Greg Whitley also lost some players in the middle of the lineup, and he's hoping for a big season from the bottom of the group.

"It's whoever has the strongest bottom half is the team that's going to win," Whitley said. "It's huge, and that's the way I approach it."

Junior Scott Senerius returns at No. 1 for AACS and should be strong again. Sophomore Brice Busse and freshman Tim Poznaniak will step in at Nos. 2 and 3 and give AACS some points.

The big match of the season will be April 28, when the teams meet. The match could go a long way toward deciding how the B Conference winds up.

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