Coming down the stretch of this year’s District V Championships at Fairway Hills, Glenelg’s Steven Segrist was trying not to get greedy.
The junior, who fell a shot short of last year’s district title in a playoff, was hitting irons off the tee and aiming for the center of the greens. With conditions as windy as they were Monday, Segrist knew it wasn’t the time to be overly aggressive.
“The end of the back nine was playing pretty tough — that wind was pretty strong — so I was just thinking make as many pars as I possibly could and see what happens,” Segrist said. “It was easy to get in trouble today, like I had that triple bogey on my second hole, and I just really had to stay steady. I kept telling myself par was a good score.”
After making birdies on three out of four holes to pull into a share of the lead in the middle of his round between Nos. 7-10, par indeed was Segrist’s best friend coming in. He made six pars and two bogies over his final eight holes to get in the clubhouse at 2-over par (72), which was a score ultimately two shots better than his closest competitors — Marriotts Ridge’s Bennett Buch and Centennial’s Matt McShane.
For a guy who had been close before several times during high school postseason events, it was truly a breakthrough victory.
“Winning is a big step, especially with being second before a couple times,” Segrist said. “It’s hard to understand until you do it, but pulling it out and winning a tournament is definitely big.”
Segrist had plenty of familiar company in the winner’s circle, as Howard County swept the team and individual titles. Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen won the girls individual championship with a round of 69 (1-under par), while Marriotts Ridge won the overall team crown with a combined total of 301 competing in the 1A/2A classification.
Even Atholton took home some team accolades with its total of 315, tying with South River for top honors among the 3A/4A schools.
All together, including the members of the Marriotts Ridge and Atholton teams, there were 13 boys and 11 girls from the county that qualified for the state championships at the University of Maryland Oct. 28-30.
Segrist ended up winning by two, but it was far from smooth sailing. With his triple bogey on No. 2, which came after he hit his drive in a hazard, he found himself in a quick hole.
Several guys, including eventual top 10 finishers Broadneck’s Chris Nolte, Marriotts Ridge’s Bennett Buch and South River’s Garrett Sauls and Billy Miles, were two shots clear of Segrist through six holes.
But that’s when Segrist got going, making back-to-back birdies on the seventh and eighth holes. Then after a par on nine, he birdied No. 10 to complete the surge.
Buch, who came into the back nine tied with Segrist at 1-over par, bogeyed the tenth to create a two-shot swing.
“That was the turning point I thought because it gave me the lead for the first time. I had come all the way back,” Segrist said.
Segrist later made key par putts on Nos. 16 and 17 to give himself a two-shot cushion going into his final hole. He made a bogey on the closing par 5, but his lead was large enough to withstand the blemish.
Buch, the defending District V champion, seemed poised to make things interesting when he birdied No. 16 to pull within one of the lead. But he stumbled in with back-to-back bogies to settle for a tie for second.
McShane was on the other end of the spectrum. He trailed the lead pack the entire way, but played his final 12 holes in 1-under par to come all the back to tie Buch in the runner-up position. He made two birdies and just one bogey over that closing stretch.
Atholton’s Chris Robinson, Mt. Hebron’s Patrick Hardy and South River’s Sauls all tied for fourth with rounds of 75. Hardy was a particularly impressive success story, having improved 19 shots from last fall as a sophomore.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet, probably won’t for another day or two,” Hardy said. “But it’s awesome. It’s really great to know that all the hard work I’ve put in since last year has paid off.”
Marriotts Ridge’s victory in the team competition was expected after the Mustangs had rolled through the regular season with perfect records on both the boys and girls side of things. Adding Rachel Lee, who finished second in the girls competition with a round of 71 (1-over), to the boys team only helped matters.
All four of the team’s scorers finished in the 70s.
“Winning the team championship is awesome, something this group has really worked hard for … really a continuation of what has already been a great season,” Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. “Now we’re going to states trying to repeat and I think we’re going there more comfortable and relaxed than we’ve ever been.”
Atholton, which was second during the regular season, also benefitted from adding Nguyen to the team mix. With her leading the way, Robinson firing his way into the top five among the boys that took the pressure off the back half of the team’s line-up, who played solid enough to put the team well under the qualifying number.
“Everybody filled their role. We knew we’d get a big score from Bryana, she’s money for us, and then we figured everyone else needed to average somewhere around 80,” Atholton coach Scott Robinson said. “Chris was a little below that and the other guys were a little over, but overall everyone came through.”