Atholton's Nguyen cements girls golf legacy with record-setting year

Going all the way back to her freshman year, Atholton's Bryana Nguyen has never been shy about chasing records.

Whether it was single-round scoring marks or milestone victories at the county, district or state levels, Nguyen was constantly raising the bar for herself. Winning was important, but what she was ultimately aiming for was always slightly bigger than that.

"Legacy has always been something that's extremely important to me," Nguyen said. "I take a lot of pride in being born and raised in Howard County and I wanted to make sure that when I left high school, I was going to be leaving behind something everyone would remember me for."

It's safe to say, following a senior year where she broke the county's single-season scoring average mark and shattered the Maryland two-day state championship scoring record, Nguyen's spot in the history books is secure.

This fall, as icing on the cake to a banner final high school campaign, the Raider senior has also been named the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times Girls Golfer of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.

"It truly is amazing how much she improved even this year, coming off a state championship as a junior," Atholton coach Scott Robinson said. "She didn't just accept where she was and become complacent, which is a natural tendency. She found a way to improve, which is a testament to the kind of player and person she is."

Nguyen was a champion from Day 1 in high school, winning the county tournament championship as a freshman and setting a single-match scoring record of 31 points during the regular season that year.

In fact, as she looks back on the last four years, Nguyen says that her game itself hasn't changed all that much.

"Honestly, I really hit it the same as I did then — I haven't gained too much distance or anything — but the biggest difference is the mental side of things," she said. "I've gained the confidence of knowing that every time out I was capable of shooting under par."

Confidence went a long way for Nguyen throughout her career as it seemed like success kept breeding more success.

This fall, for example, after a relatively inconspicuous start, she shot a four-under round of 31 points in a tri-match against Reservoir and Wilde Lake during the first week of September. Over the final weeks of the regular season, she proceeded to hit 31 points two more times on her way to finishing with a scoring average of 28.4 points — the highest ever by a Howard County boys or girls golfer.

The county championship tournament ended up being the one blemish on Nguyen's resume, as Marriotts Ridge's Rachel Lee edged out a victory in a playoff. But, as she found a way to do throughout her career, Nguyen simply used the setback to make her better.

"I was disappointed, but it kind of helped me refocus for districts and states," Nguyen said. "This year and all the years, actually, having Rachel pushing me really helped keep me from taking anything for granted. She pushed me to shoot better scores."

Nguyen delivered a one-under-par round of 69 at the District Championships at Fairway Hills to win by two shots over Lee. She then saved her best for last, setting several records on her way to her second straight state championship.

Her first-round 66 (5-under par) and two-day total of 134 (8-under par) both shattered the previous marks for girls individuals on the state's biggest stage.

In addition to those state records, Nguyen also graduates with the most county championships (3), most district championships (2) and most state championships (2) ever by a county golfer. She also owns marks for best single round, most under-par rounds and best scoring average during the regular season.

"She raised the level of golf not only for Atholton, but for the entire county," Robinson said. "She set the standard as a freshman and every time she went on the course she had a target on her back, but that never seemed to rattle her. She is truly a remarkable individual."

Nguyen has signed to play collegiately at the University of North Carolina starting next fall for a Tar Heels team that is traditionally among the top 50 programs in Division I.

Named to the first team all-county squad are:

Marissa Davey, Marriotts Ridge. A repeat first-team performer, Davey's consistency in the third spot for the Mustangs this fall was a major reason the team was able to finish the regular season undefeated. She was much improved over her junior year, increasing her scoring average almost three points up to 18.4 a match. She went for a season-high 22 points in a victory over Reservoir to close the regular season.

She finished 10th at the county championship tournament, before firing an 85 at districts to qualify her for the state tournament. She graduates having helped the Mustangs to three county championship team titles.

Avni Johnson, Atholton. An offseason of hard work paid huge dividends for the Raiders senior, who improved her season scoring average by eight points up to 22.1 a match. That put her among the top five county scorers during the regular season. Her round of 26 points in the regular season finale was among the highlights, as it helped Atholton set a new team scoring record with 86 points.

Johnson placed fifth at the county championship tournament (41 points) and then produced her highest finish ever at the District Championships a couple weeks later. Her round of 77 placed her alone in fourth place.

Josephine Jung, Mt. Hebron. No county golfer improved their scoring average more than the Vikings' sophomore, who was more than 10 shots better than her freshman year at 21.8 points a match. In fact, she went for 22 or more points in six of the eight matches she played during the regular season. She was also the leader for a Mt. Hebron team that finished tied for third in the standings at 8-3.

She placed seventh at the county championship tournament (37 points) and eighth at districts (83).

Lauren Kim, Marriotts Ridge. The talented freshman burst onto the scene this fall and immediately established herself as one of the county's best. She went for 24 points or more in every regular-season match, finishing with a final average of 25.6 (third best in the county). Her season-high was 28 points in a tri-match victory over River Hill and Wilde Lake.

Kim carried her strong play into the postseason, earning top three finishes at counties and districts. At the county championships, she shot a two-over total (52 points) to finish just one shot out of a playoff and she was five back at Districts with a round of 74. She wrapped everything up with a two-day total of 155 at states to finish in fifth place.

Rachel Lee, Marriotts Ridge. While Lee graduates never having been named Player of the Year, the Mustangs' star still leaves behind quite the legacy of her own as one of the top girls to ever come through Howard County. This fall, she was second during the regular season with a scoring average of 26.2 points a match (up from 24.6 in 2012). She went for a season-high 30 points in a tri-match sweep of Atholton and Centennial at Waverly Woods that proved to be the victory that decided this year's county title.

She then outlasted Atholton's Bryana Nguyen in a playoff at the county championship tournament, capturing the title in that event for the first time in her career. Lee was two shots behind Nguyen at the District Championship, finishing second with a one-over-par 71. Then at states, she finished third with a two-day total of 147 to finish alone in third place.

Samyra Lewis, Oakland Mills. Despite playing as her team's only golfer this fall, Lewis still managed to compile five victories for the Scorpions. The model of consistency, she scored either 24 or 25 points in six of her eight matches this fall on her way to an average of 23.4 points. That average was fourth best in the county and a slight improvement over her total as a junior.

At the county championship tournament she placed fourth with a total of 43 points, then sixth at the District V Championships with a round of 79. Her score at districts was three strokes better than her junior year. Lewis then wrapped things up at states by finishing in a tie for 11th after a two-day total of 164.

Amanda Petersen, Atholton. A back-to-back first team performer, Petersen continued to improve this fall as a junior. She upped her scoring average to 20.9 points a match, almost a full two points better than the previous year. She scored 21 points or more in every match but two this season.

In the postseason, her scores at all three tournaments were improvements over the previous year. She fired a round of 39 points at counties, taking sixth place. Then she shot an 80 at districts to finish alone in seventh. She wrapped things up with a two-day total of 171 at the state championships, putting her in a tie for 17th.

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