Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee of Marriotts Ridge finished fourth at the state tournament last season. She and her Mustang teammates will be going for their third straight undefeated season this fall. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing / August 22, 2012)

They're all back. The county's first individual state champion in more than 30 years, the boys and girls individual district champions, and the entire starting line-ups from the boys and girls undefeated county championship squads — back and hungry for more.

Last year, as underclassmen, they put Howard County on the map. Now they're trying to keep it there.

"It's a fun time to be around golf in the county … it really is," Centennial coach Rob Slopek said. "You know that you have to be at your best every match or you're in trouble. Last year was pretty darn competitive and this year is going to be even tougher."

All eyes, at least initially, will be on the reigning Players of the Year.


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Wilde Lake senior Tyler Silberberg, the defending boys state champion, and Atholton junior Bryana Nguyen, a two-time state tournament runner-up, are each coming off seasons where they averaged more than 27.7 points a match. Under the county's Stableford scoring system, which awards a point for a double bogey, two for a bogey, three for a par, four for a birdie and so on, the duo posted two of the three best scoring averages in county history.

There will be challengers, though. On the boys' side, all but two of the 13 players that made first- or second-team all-county last fall return to their respective teams. Centennial senior Connor Flach, who shot a 68 to win the 2011 District V title, leads that group.

The boys' team title appears to once again go through Glenelg, which is coming off an 11-0 season and returns its entire starting lineup. Steven Segrist, Matt Forester and Adam Leake were all among the top six county scorers last year.

Wilde Lake, Marriotts Ridge and Centennial should be right there in the mix as well.

For the girls, Marriotts Ridge junior Rachel Lee (24.2-point average) and Oakland Mills junior Samyra Lewis (19.8) have the potential for special individual seasons.

Lee, who finished fourth at last fall's state tournament, also figures to play a predominant role in the team title chase. Her Mustangs' squad has its sights set on the program's third straight undefeated regular season. All four of the team's starters are back.

Atholton, which went 10-1 a season ago, will likely be Marriotts Ridge's toughest challenger.

Regular season matches will have a little added flair this year, as each team is scheduled to play three tri-matches. After numerous rainouts forced teams to experiment with tri-matches last fall, the county chose to insert them officially into the schedule this season.

"I'm excited about it and, to be honest, we wanted to do more (tri-matches) but it didn't work out from a mathematical standpoint," Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. "When you factor in weather and course availability, trying to fit 11 matches into such a short season just isn't feasible."

With the season having officially kicked off Aug. 21, here's a look at what to expect from each of the county teams:

Atholton

2011 boys record: 6-5; 2011 girls: 10-1

Top boys: Seniors Garrett Wallace and Steven Wolf; sophomores Chris Robinson and Max Rosenthal.

Top girls: Juniors Bryana Nguyen and Avni Johnson; sophomore Amanda Petersen.

What you need to know: Three of the top four are back from last year for a Raiders' squad that has its sights set on another top half finish. Wallace led the team as a junior with a 20.1 scoring average, followed by Robinson (17.1) and Wolf (16.0). Keep an eye on Rosenthal, who coach Scott Robinson says is the most improved player on the team.

Nguyen shattered the girls' regular season scoring mark last season (27.7 points a match) and, after winning county and district titles as a sophomore, has her eyes on a state title this fall. A team title is also one of her goals and she'll have help in that department. Petersen showed tremendous improvement during her first year and has double-digit scoring potential. Johnson is a former soccer player in her first year with the team.