After going undefeated during the regular season (11-0) and winning the District 6 tournament for the third straight year on Oct. 15, the Dulaney golf team isn’t ready to pack away its clubs.
In fact, the Lions are peaking in the postseason.
On Oct. 23, the Lions will play at Diamond Ridge in the Baltimore County championships.
Dulaney won the team county championship last year and had individual champions there the past two years.
In the win in the District 6 tournament, at Fox Hollow Golf Club on Oct. 15, four Lions also qualified for the Class 3A-4A state tournament at College Park.
Having four qualify means they will also be in the team competition at states. To qualify, players had to shoot 79 or under on the par 70 course.
Dulaney junior Ryan Choi shot the lowest score (69) among the 45 golfers and he was followed closely by sophomore teammate Nick Charlow (70).
Junior Jack Felt (76) and senior Bobby O’Grady (78) also qualified and sophomore Luke Murnane (83) came up short for the Lions.
Choi, one of three qualifiers for the state tournament last year when he finished tied for 30th, wasn’t sure he was going to qualify early in his round.
“On the range my swing was just absolutely terrible,” said Choi, who was five over par after seven holes.
Choi started the round on the 15th hole, and after he parred the fourth hole, he birdied the 120-yard par 3 fifth hole and his round changed.
“I got a really lucky bounce on hole number five,” said Choi, who made a 5-footer for the first of four consecutive birdies. “It was my first bird of the day and after that my swing just started to click in.”
He added birdies on holes 10 and 11 and defeated his teammate Charlow by a stroke.
Charlow had four birdies and 10 pars in his round and is challenging Choi for the team’s number one golfer.
“What is great is Nick Charlow is right on his tail,” Dulaney coach Mike Wall said. “They are so close. That’s what is so great about this team, they push each other and they really compete, every practice.”
Charlow’s charge towards the top reminded Wall of when Choi came to Dulaney three years ago.
“He came in cocky as a freshman and he battled for number one from his freshman year and he never got it (until this year),” Wall said. “My senior, Chan Park, last year held on to it the last two years, but Ryan was right on his tail.”
Park finished 23rd in the state tournament and Charlow was 37th.
“That’s what is so great about this team, they push each other and they really compete, every practice,” Wall said. “Like today, he (Choi) shoots 69 and he (Charlow) shoots 70, they are like on each other, which is great.”
O’Grady, who qualified by a stroke, also made it to the state tournament as a sophomore, but missed out last season.
“I had a back injury last year and I had a little bit of a rough year, so that was kind of tough mentally, so just coming into today, I just wanted to come in have fun and just try to get back down to College Park,” O’Grady said.
He said the team’s depth has pushed him to succeed.
“We play practice rounds twice a week and we are kind of competing against each other for these top spots and you really have to give credit to my teammates for kind of like making me better and pushing me,” O’Grady said.
A putter or pitching wedge in a player’s hand is not an uncommon sight.
“We all definitely have improved a ton on our short game because we spend an hour down at the range and an hour every day at the putting green,” O’Grady said.
Fox Hollow is the Lions’ home course and it’s directly across from the high school and that has made a difference.
“With it being our home course we know all the little nooks and crannies and I think that really gives us an edge, especially out here today,” O’Grady said.
Power off the tee is also a strength on the shorter holes, like the 316-yard par four seventh.
“My guys can drive it,” Wall said. “We make them clear the green before we tee off with a bunch of my guys.”
When the Lions get to the University of Maryland course for the state tournament, which begins on Oct. 28, the course will have some familiarity.
“What’s great is they have already gone out and practiced at Maryland,” Wall said. “They have already been out playing the course and they met with last year’s player who goes there and had lunch down there.”
Additional male state qualifiers from District 6 schools included Perry Hall’s Dylan Weiss (77), Towson’s Ryan Quinn (78) and Overlea’s Malachi Walker (79).
To qualify for states in the girls tournament, players needed to shoot 90 or under and Western’s Hallie Bridges shot the lowest round (78).
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Other female qualifiers included Sparrows Point’s Rhianna Stitt (80), Carver A & T’s Jaja Pichaikul (84) and Hereford’s Eliza Fritsch (89).