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Westminster’s Jennifer Sorkin repeats as individual champion, Liberty captures team title at Carroll County golf tournament

As she made the turn in the middle of her round Thursday at the Carroll County championship tournament, Westminster senior Jennifer Sorkin looked up and saw a familiar face.

Her older brother Aaron, the 2019 Carroll County individual champion who graduated this past spring after being named Player of the Year for a second time, had made the trip to River Downs Golf Club to watch his younger sister chase her second straight county title. He, along with the rest of the spectators, ended up being treated to a dominating performance.

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Sparked by an eagle on the par 5 12th hole, Sorkin fired a one-over par round of 73 to finish six shots ahead of second place and defend her crown.

“When I saw him on [the 10th hole], I was actually really excited because I just don’t see him as much as I used to when we were spending every day together,” Sorkin said. “We had a nice competition last year where I won the county tournament, but he finished ahead of me in points. So, yeah, it was nice to have him supporting me now this year as I tried to win again.”

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While Sorkin distanced herself from the field, it wasn’t quite enough to hold off an inspired all-around effort from Liberty in the team competition. The Lions ended up putting four players — Ben Davidson (81), Jack Davidson (81), Drew Byrd (82) and Carter Nimorwicz (86) — within five shots of one another on the way to a 330-team total that was two strokes better than second-place Westminster (332).

“Being the host team today, I knew we had a good opportunity because these guys know this course pretty well. I’ve got five or six guys who can shoot right around 80 and I think you saw that today,” Liberty coach Paul Bangle said. “Westminster is a great team and a great program, with an amazing player in Jennifer that leads them, so we really needed everyone to do their part in order to come out on top.”

The Liberty golf team poses for a photo together after winning the county championship tournament team title at River Run Golf Club on Oct. 14, 2021.
The Liberty golf team poses for a photo together after winning the county championship tournament team title at River Run Golf Club on Oct. 14, 2021.

While there wasn’t a tournament victory, the second-place finish for Westminster was still enough for the program to secure the overall county championship. The Owls, which went 5-0-1 during regular season play in the Carroll County Athletic League, ended up with 16 points — two points ahead of second-place Liberty (14).

“I’m proud of the kids this year for stepping up to continue what those players from the past started. It’s not as easy as some of the previous players made it seem, so several of them had to improve to keep us on top,” Westminster coach Jim Carpenter said. “Without a doubt, though, having that scorer out in front like Jennifer is huge. She takes the pressure off everyone else.”

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Behind Sorkin, Westminster’s other scorers Thursday were Micah Ozgar (85), Evan Appleby (86) and Riley Smith (88).

It was Sorkin, though, that stole the show nearly every step of the way. She made a couple early bogeys, but settled down to rattle off six straight pars between hole Nos. 6 and 11. Then on the par 5 12th, she hit the green in two and sank an eagle putt that created significant separation from her competition.

“The putt was difficult so I was actually surprised to see that one go in,” Sorkin said. “But I knew that brought me back to zero, back to even, so I was really happy about that. I felt like it allowed me to go forward with confidence.”

Her only hiccup coming in ended up being a three-putt bogey on No. 15. Overall, she shot one-under on the back nine while playing smart golf that included iron off the tee on all but a couple holes.

“Lately I’ve been very comfortable with my irons, it’s kind of been my go-to [thing] … so, I just kind of stuck with that today,” she said.

Winters Mill junior Gianni Serafin ended up alone in second place with a 7-over-par round of 79. He made a birdie on his first hole (No. 17) and another on the par 5 fifth to highlight his day. He also pointed to a par on the 12th hole that halted a string of back-to-back double bogeys as an important moment in the round.

“I felt really good on the range warming up and then I tried to place the ball as best as I could out on the course,” Serafin said. “It was definitely better than I expected. I was thinking that 85 was probably about average for me, so obviously today was much better than that.”

Liberty’s Ben and Jack Davidson, along with South Carroll’s Michael Valerio, all shot scores of 81 to round out the top five individual finishers.

Tournament team results:

1. Liberty, 330; 2. Westminster, 332; 3. Manchester Valley, 347; 4. Winters Mill, 352; 5. Century, 361; 6. South Carroll, 370; 7. Francis Scott Key, 459.

Top individual finishers:

1. Jennifer Sorkin, W, 73; 2. Gianni Serafin, WM, 79; T3. Ben Davidson, L, 81; T3. Jack Davidson, L, 81; T3. Michael Valerio, SC, 81; 6. Drew Byrd, L, 82; 7. Ryan Durborow, C, 84; T8. Micah Ozgar, W, 85; T8. Parker Bopst, MV, 85.

T10. Jacob Gouge, MV, 86; T10. Jamison Gouge, MV, 86; T10. Carter Nimorwicz, L, 86; T10. Evan Appleby, W, 86.

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