Perfect putt, perfect ending



At the time, Atholton senior golfer Leslie Walker didn't know the significance of her 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole of Thursday's Howard County Golf Championships, but she did know she wanted it to be her last of the day.

"I just said to myself, `Don't leave it short - putt it like it's for the win,' " Walker said. "And it turned out to be."

Walker found out a short time later - a huge smile from coach John Zitco gave it away - that she captured the girls individual title by one stroke over Centennial's Audra McShane.

Playing under the Stableford scoring system - which awards four points for birdies, three for pars, two for bogeys and one for double-bogeys - Walker scored 44 points in the 18-hole tournament, with McShane finishing one behind.

"It was a big breaking putt to the left and it was uphill, which is good because you can be more aggressive than if it were downhill," said Walker, who has been playing golf for nine years. "I just found a line and stuck with it. It was a good feeling when I made it and an even better one when I found out it was for the win."

Oakland Mills' Donnie Shin captured the boys individual title with 53 points, four ahead of Centennial's Chris Wellde. Mount Hebron scored 171 points for top team honors.

This season marked the return of golf as a varsity sport in Howard County since the 1993-94 school year. In between, golf had been played as a club sport.

"Playing club was definitely fun, but it didn't have the same feeling to it. [As a varsity sport], it just means that much more," Walker said.

The state golf tournament will run from Oct. 24-26 at the University of Maryland.

One choice, 2 results

The Mount Hebron and Atholton football teams decided to try for the win rather than the tie in the fourth quarter of their respective games on Friday night with mixed success.

The Vikings ran senior Chris Eccleston on a sweep left to convert for an 8-7 win over Hammond. Their score came with 5:30 to play.

At Atholton, the Raiders scored with 30 seconds left against Reservoir and looked to Matt Winger on their two-point try, but he was tackled at the 1 and they fell short, 7-6.

With the driving rain and soggy field conditions, Mount Hebron coach Larry Luthe and Atholton's Chuck Fales didn't hesitate to go for two points.

"If it were Saturday afternoon football, I'd still make the same decision to go for two points," said Fales, whose Raiders fell to 2-3.

With Mount Hebron 3-2 overall and 2-2 in county play, Luthe hopes the win can be a springboard for the rest of the season.

Change of plans

While Glenelg (6-0, 6-0) remained perfect with a 47-0 win over Centennial on Friday night in rainy conditions coach John Davis described as "tailor-made" for his powerful ground game, defending county champ River Hill (6-0, 6-0) had to go away from its usual balanced attack to get past Wilde Lake, 28-14.

The Hawks ran the ball 51 times for 369 yards - senior fullback Nick Campanaro accounted for 203 yards and three touchdowns - and threw only two passes, which were both incomplete.

"That's a sign of a good football team," River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen said. "We were limited with some of the stuff we could - we had to pound it inside and Nick and our offensive line really stepped up with big games."

Balanced offense

The Long Reach field hockey team is scoring goals in bunches, and the offense is coming from everywhere.

With a 9-1 record going into the week, the Lightning had 44 goals - 4.4 per game.

The statistic that has impressed coach Melissa Lennon the most is that 11 of the team's 15 field players have figured in the scoring. Kelly Filipowicz, the team's leading scorer last season, went into the week with 17 goals and seven assists. Sophomore Kelli Battista, in her first varsity season, has nine goals and two assists; senior Ashley Rabe has six goals and two assists, and Melissa Chen has five goals.

"All the girls are playing competitively in practice, and it carries over into the games. I think they're really starting to come together and gel with each other," Lennon said.

Veteran rookie's win

At the Meade Autumn Classic, Travis Boccher got his first taste of running in the rain, in the mud and into the wind. He also got his first taste of the victory podium.

Boccher, a senior participating in his first season of cross country for No. 4 Wilde Lake, got his first career win when he crossed the finish line at Blob's Park in Jessup on Friday in 16 minutes, 50.99 seconds - the fastest time of the day.

Boccher, who has placed no lower than fifth at the Howard County Striders and Bull Run invitationals, traded leads with teammate J.P. Allera until the final 800 meters, which was Boccher's forte in indoor and outdoor track last year.

"I guess I put on a little extra burst of speed at the end," he said. "With 800 left to go, that benefited me."

Boccher's success is somewhat surprising considering he took up track for the first time last year and missed four weeks of the spring season due to a stress fracture in his right leg.

Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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