In his final year as coach of Westminster's golf team, Jeff Ibex on Saturday coached the Owls to a notable first, as they captured the inaugural Carroll County golf tournament by beating Liberty by 10 strokes.
Paced by freshman Spencer Gifford's 6-over-par 77, including a sizzling 37 on the back nine, and Tim Evelius' 80, the Owls negotiated the stiff breezes at Bear Creek Golf Course in Westminster to fire a foursome total of 326, including a respectable 83 by Doug Politz, who only recently earned a starting spot.
"We've been looking for our third and four players to score for us consistently all season," Ibex said. "The last three weeks, they've started doing it."
Gifford started the afternoon on a high note with a pair of early birdies and only seemed to get stronger as the day progressed.
"In the districts I shot 84, so 77 was definitely an improvement," said Gifford, adding that helping his team win the first-ever county tournament made the day more special. "It's a big thing."
Liberty, which finished just 4-3 against county teams during the regular season, also had a particularly impressive showing, led by Kevin Pugh's 77, which tied Gifford for low score.
"Kevin was a good leader out there today," Liberty coach Paul Bangle said. "I was just hoping that our kids would go out and play the course - not just try to attack - and that's what they did."
Bangle, a first-year coach, said he sees the tournament as a definite plus for the county. "I like it," Bangle said. "It gives us a smaller venue than the districts. Since a lot of the county schools now are in different conferences, it really gives us an idea about who's the best in Carroll County itself."
Ibex said county teams had long anticipated having a tournament of their own but had been held back by sticking points such as their inability to secure a site on a weekend, when players could compete without missing school.
Now, as his 15-year stint at Westminster comes to a close, he not only got to see those plans come to fruition, but he also was able to enjoy the spoils of victory.
"It's a nice retirement gift," he said.
Righting the ship
A short week of practice didn't do much to hurt Westminster's football team, which defeated Tuscarora, 54-18, on Saturday. In fact, the Owls welcomed the chance to quickly rid themselves of the bitter taste left behind after Monday's loss to Linganore - their first of the season.
Heavy rains forced school officials to twice postpone the Linganore game, which was finally played at Westminster on Monday night.
Owls coach Brad Wilson called the 22-10 loss a wake-up call.
"I think it's the best thing that could've happened to us," Wilson said. "I've been talking about it and talking about it, but sometimes in life, you have to go through something before you really understand what someone was trying to say. I'd rather it be now than Week 11 or Week 12."
Against Tuscarora, the Owls (5-1) began doing some of the things that escaped them against the Lancers, such as scoring points in the red zone.
Westminster, however, won't have a chance to relax, facing another stiff test Friday when it hosts Thomas Johnson (4-2).
After losing seven seniors to graduation, Carroll Christian volleyball coach Missi Henry admittedly expected this to be a rebuilding year.
Thanks to the surprising play of three sophomores, however, the Patriots enter this week's Maryland Association of Christian Schools Tournament as the favorites with an 8-0 record in conference play during the regular season.
Middle hitters Liz Garber and Alyssa Hale and outside hitter Brittney Becker all have played major roles, consistently scoring points off sets from junior Emily Henry.
"I brought them along a good part of the season last year, and they were able to work out with the varsity," said Henry, in her fourth season as coach. "They got a little bit of playing time but not much. I was really hopeful."
Carroll Christian entered yesterday's tournament opener with a 10-2 mark. By virtue of its regular-season performance, the team already has earned a spot in the upcoming regional tournament.
Despite their record, however, Henry said the Patriots will have raise their level of play to continue progressing through the brackets.
"What we're going to have to do is step up our kills," Henry said. "We are not putting enough balls away. We'll go into some long rallies sometimes and just not finish it."
Owls run away
Allison Eaton's victory at the Run From the Lion's Den at Liberty last week cemented the sophomore's standing as the No. 1 runner for the seventh-ranked Westminster girls cross country team.
Yet Eaton demurred when asked if her performances this fall have proved that she has successfully replaced two-time county Runner of the Year and teammate Trisha Repsher, who is recovering from a broken ankle.
"I don't think I've replaced Trisha because she was winning most of her races," Eaton said. "I don't know if I could get her times. She's really good."