Since before the season even began, Marriotts Ridge’s senior duo of David Stephens and Alex Pak have been talking about continuing the tradition.
Taking over as the leaders for a Mustangs’ program coming off four straight undefeated regular seasons, they shouldered the burden of trying to make sure that streak lived on. So, in some ways, it was only fitting that on Monday at Fairway Hills — in the team’s biggest match of the season to date against also undefeated Glenelg — it was Stephens and Pak who stepped up and delivered the best rounds of their careers.
Stephens fired a personal-best score of 26 points, while Pak was right behind him with a personal-best 25, and Marriotts Ridge tied a season high with 92 points as a team on its way to a tri-match sweep of Glenelg (85 points) and Wilde Lake (54). The victories improve the Mustangs to a county-best 10-0 this fall and assure the team of at least a share of its fifth straight county championship.
“We might not talk about it much, but there has definitely been pressure on those two seniors to keep this whole thing going, so it says a lot about them the way that they’ve responded,” Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. “This is a true team, in that everyone contributes, but you ask anyone and they’ll tell you that David and Alex have been the real driving force for us.”
Stephens, who made birdies on two of his first three holes to set the tone for what ended up being a special day, said he’s relished the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the program’s elite players before him.
“I remember my freshman and sophomore years coming out here and watching some of the better players come out here and shoot well and perform well,” Stephens said. “We’ve had this match circled on our calendars, we knew Glenelg is a good team and they have a great coach. And we knew they were going to come out firing and they definitely did.
“It was tough for us to hang in there, but we ultimately pulled out the win.”
Glenelg (8-1-1), which was led on the day by 23 points from Caleb Taylor, ended up with all four of its players scoring in the 20s. And in the early going, it was the Gladiators that jumped in front with three of the team’s four players making pars on the opening hole.
In fact, it wasn’t until the par 5 fifth hole — where all four Marriotts Ridge players made pars — that the Mustangs grabbed their first team lead of the day.
Down the stretch, Glenelg had a few hiccups that created the final seven-point margin but coach Chris Beil said he was proud of the overall effort.
“I felt like we showed up today, we made it a match, but Marriotts Ridge is undefeated for a reason. They know how to play in the big matches,” Beil said. “I’m happy for the guys, they hung in there and put up one of our better team scores today. We had a few bad holes that were costly, but for the most part we bounced back well to stay in it until the very end.”
Outside of its two seniors, solid rounds from Justin Allen (21 points) and Isaac Kim (20) were keys to helping Marriotts Ridge earn the victory. Allen and Kim, playing in the first group, got off to a slow start but regrouped in the middle of the round.
Kim in particular had a huge bounce-back following a double and triple bogey on his first two holes. After that, he made pars on six of his final seven holes.
Both Kim and Allen made clutch pars on their last hole to make up four shots on their Glenelg playing partners, who each closed with a double bogey.
Stephens was the opposite of his teammates, however, as he came racing out of the starting gates. He made a 20-foot putt for birdie on his first hole and then, following a par on No. 2, he stuck his tee shot within a few feet of the pin on the par 3 third hole to set up another birdie.
Later in his round, he hit a couple wayward approach shots but consistently bailed himself out with solid shots around the greens.
“In the middle of the round I started to miss a couple greens, had to get a couple of key up-and-downs, but I made some putts,” Stephens said. “I made an unfortunate double [bogey] on No. 9, but I was able to stay strong and shoot one-over.”
Pak was also the model of consistency, as he closed his day with seven straight pars.
For Glenelg, behind Taylor, Brandon Writt scored 22 points to go along with 20 points apiece from Michael Forester and Tony Mobley.
Wilde Lake (1-9) also participated in the match, with Eric Schneider posting a team-high 19 points.
Marriotts Ridge 92, Glenelg 85, Wilde Lake 54
MR (10-0): Stephens 26, Pak 25, Allen 21, Kim 20.
G (8-1-1): Taylor 23, Writt 22, Forester 20, Mobley 20.
WL (1-9): Eric Schneider 19, Evan Schneider 15, Arsenault 11, Tiffey 9.
Girls golf score:
Marriotts Ridge 36, Wilde Lake 31, Glenelg 25
In a match-up to determine third place in the county standings, Faith McIlvain scored 26 points (1-over par) to lead the way for the Mustangs to the tri-match sweep. Julianna Dorsch also added nine points for a Marriotts Ridge team that improved to 8-2 in county play.
Wilde Lake ended up losing to the Mustangs, but did edge the Gladiators. Lee Lee Sands scored a team-high 16 points to pace the Wildecats, with Sarah Spall chipping in with 13 points.
Mogan Ruddo led Glenelg with 10 points.
MR (8-2): McIlvain 26, Dorsch 9, Liporini 1.
WL (7-3): Sands 16, Spall 13, Patel 2.
G (6-4): Ruddo 10, Abruscato 8, Kunzelman 6, Sacks 1.
Reach Brent Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @BKBSunSports