Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs isn’t a superstitious man, although when you've been in this same scenario as many times as he has nothing is out of the question.
On Tuesday during the opening round of the state championships for the 1A/2A schools, Dubbs watched his team set a school record with a four-player total of 294. That mark puts the Mustangs 28 shots ahead of second-place Glenelg (322) heading into the final round Wednesday at the University of Maryland golf course.
However, considering Marriotts Ridge has lost first-day leads each of the past three years at the state tournament, Dubbs says it may be time to change up the routine.
“I tell you what, I’m going to take a different route coming here, I’m going to eat something different for breakfast … anything we’ve done the last three years we’re not redoing it tomorrow,” he said. “These kids have been through this too many times. They deserve a different result.”
Marriotts Ridge squandered first-day leads of six shots in 2009, three shots in 2010 and 16 shots in 2011. Last year’s collapse saw the team shoot 23 strokes worse on day two to lose by three.
This year’s team, which features three players from last fall, is hoping those past failures will strengthen their resolve this time around.
“Being here before, you learn how important it is to take it one hole at a time,” said Rachel Lee, who fired a two-over 73 on Tuesday to put herself in a tie for first in the girls competition. “If you mess up a hole, just move on. It’s bigger than just you out there. You are playing for the whole team.”
Having an extra big cushion will certainly be working in Marriotts Ridge’s favor.
Mustang freshman Bennett Buch, coming off a District V championship, came out and fired an opening round 68 (3-under par) to lead the way to Marriotts Ridge producing the tournament’s only sub-300 team score thus far.
Buch finds himself in second-place alone in the individual competition, trailing leader Matt Oshrine of Pikesville by two. Oshrine made six birdies and one bogey en route to an opening day 66.
Buch made five birdies of his own and said playing alongside the leader really helped him elevate his game.
“Matt and I were definitely feeding off one another. It was like we were both throwing darts out there,” Buch said. “It’s fun to play with someone who’s playing like that because it pushes you to shoot a better score.”
Lee’s spot atop the girls leaderboard had a lot to do with her quick start, which included birdies on her third and fourth holes after bogeying her second hole of the day. She later added a birdie on the last hole of her front nine to make the turn in 2-under.
“The start was really important because it gave the boost of confidence I needed after not playing well at counties,” Lee said. “It gave me room to make a few mistakes and still shoot a good score.”
Lee ended up 4-over on her back nine, making two bogeys and a double bogey, but still matched the trio of 73s put up by the 3A/4A golfers the previous day.
In addition to Buch and Lee, Marriotts Ridge also got strong rounds from brothers Michael Dorsch (75) and Joe Dorsch (78).
While Glenelg couldn’t match the Mustangs effort Tuesday, the Gladiators still put themselves well under the cutline (332). Steven Segrist (77) led the way, followed by Young Lee (80), Matt Forester (82) and Greg Leake (83).
After not making the cut at last year’s state tournament, Glenelg coach Chris Beil says his team accomplished the important task of giving themselves a chance.
“Anything can happen. Last year we didn’t even give ourselves an opportunity … so we got that part out of the way,” Beil said. “The way I look at it, every guy needs to improve by seven strokes and with this group they are definitely capable of doing that. All we can do is play our best and see what happens.”
The final round is scheduled to tee off at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the University of Maryland golf course with all four classifications combining together in the competition for this year’s individual championships.
For the boys, Oshrine is up by two on Buch, three on Walt Whitman’s Andrew Barth and five on the county duo of Tyler Silberberg (Wilde Lake) and Connor Flach (Centennial).
On the girls side, Lee is tied for the lead with Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen, Wooton’s Allison Wong and Wooton’s Delaney Shah. Oakland Mills’ Samyra Lewis is also still within striking distance after shooting an opening round 77.