In each of the past three years, the Marriotts Ridge golf team took the first-day lead in the Class 2A-1A state championship only to slip back on the second day.
Again this year, an impressive opening round put the Mustangs at the top of the leader board going into Wednesday's final round at the University of Maryland Golf Course. This time, however, they had freshman Bennett Buch.
With his second straight under-par round, Buch captured the individual boys title and led Marriotts Ridge to the elusive team title, the program's first. After a first-day 68 to go into Wednesday's final round two shots back of Pikesville's Matt Oshrine, Buch shot a 70 to finish with a two-day total of 138, good enough for a one-stroke win. Buch's score, teamed with fine play from Rachel Lee (148), Michael Dorsch (156) and Joe Dorsch (169) gave the Mustangs a two-day total of 611 to easily defeat runner-up Glenelg's score of 634.
"It was the first time I put together back-to-back under[-par] rounds, so it was a lot of fun. I just made a lot of birdies and it was just enjoyable the whole time out there," Buch said.
Marriotts Ridge's performance was only half of what Howard County had to celebrate as Atholton junior Bryana Nguyen won the individual girls title with a two-day total of 144. Finishing second the previous two years to former Arundel standout Elyse Smidinger, Nguyen relied on past experiences for a steady round of 73 to edge second-place finisher Delaney Shah of Wootton by one stroke.
Taking a one shot lead into the second day, Nguyen wanted to make something happen early and then go from there. After missing a five-foot birdie putt on the first hole, she used her 9-iron on the par-3 second hole and placed a shot two feet from the cup to get the birdie she was looking for. Her experience kicked in the rest of the round to help her push through for the championship.
"I was pretty steady all day. I tried not to do anything special and waited for others to make the mistakes rather than me," Nguyen said. " Last year, I didn't play my game. I played against my opponent instead of just playing against the course. So today that's what I did — I blocked everybody out and played my game. It just feels real good and I'm relieved."
A good start provided Buch with confidence to nudge him past Oshrine and Centennial's Connor Flach, who shared second place, one shot back.
On the par-4 420-yard opening hole, he hit a bad shot off the tee, but recovered nicely when he holed a 30-yard chip for birdie. With Oshrine bogeying the hole, Buch found himself tied for the lead after the first hole. With Oshrine and Flach staying close throughout the day, Buch finished the round with birdies on holes 15 and 16 and then closed the round with pars on the last two holes.
Wootton captured the Class 4A-3A team title with strong performances from three girls — runner-up Shah, third-place finisher Allison Wong and eighth-place finisher Graysen Bright.
(at University of Maryland Golf Course)
Team scores (two-day totals)
Class 2A-1A: 1. Marriotts Ridge 611; 2. Glenelg 634; 3. Century 649; 4. Kent Island 663.
Class 4A-3A: 1. Wootton 603; 2. Urbana 626; 3. Walt Whitman 627; 4. Wilde Lake 632; t-5. Stephen Decatur 634; t-5 Northern-Calvert 634; 7. Bel Air 640; 8. North Point 653.
Boys: 1. Buch (MR) 68-70 138; t-2. Oshrine (PK) 66-73 139; t-2 Flach (CENT) 71-68 139; 4. Silberberg (WL) 71-71 142; t-5 Clark (NO CARR) 72-73 145; t-5. Schaap (CH) 73-72 145; t-7 Barth (WW) 69-78 147; t-7. Moles (URB) 72-75 147; t-7. Moriarty (ROCK) 75-72 147; t-10. Feldman (WOOT) 76-73 149; t-10. Hottman (BA) 77-72 149; t-10. Loiodice (BA) 77-72 149; t-10. Pastoriza (WW) 77-72 149; t-10. Tenpas (B-CC) 75-74 149.
Girls: 1. Nguyen (ATH) 71-73 144; 2. Shah (WOOT) 73-73 145; 3. Wong (WOOT) 73-73 146; 4. Lee (MR) 75-73 148; 5. McKelvin (WEST) 74-78 152; 6. Carr (NP) 78-8 76 154; 7. Lewis (OAK M) 84-77 161; 8. Bright (WOOT) 79-84 163; 9. Jia (CH) 83-81 164; 10. Dizon (SEV PK) 79-86 165.