The Poindexter Cup is Jordan McKelvin's favorite golf competition of the year, and she helped make sure Team Maryland enjoyed itself at the annual interstate showdown.
McKelvin, a senior-to-be at Westminster High School and the reigning Times Player of the Year, was one of eight junior golfers for Maryland going up against an eight-player team from Virginia. Maryland had beaten its rival only once in the 15-year series, until McKelvin and her teammates put together a dominant performance. Maryland coasted to a 10-point victory at Hyatt River Marsh Golf Club June 28-29 in Cambridge.
"It was so much fun," said McKelvin, who defeated Amy Yang of Roanoke in her singles match on Day 2 of the competition. "I encourage everyone to go out and watch it all the time, whenever it comes around. You don't get to experience that when you're in tournaments by yourself. It's a complete team event. It's not high school golf, it's nothing like that. It's Maryland vs. Virginia."
Virginia holds a commanding lead (13-2-1) in the series, which began in 1999, but the second loss came in lopsided fashion. Maryland split the four-ball matches 6-6 on Day 1 before pulling away in singles matches, winning 17-7 in a romp. On the first day, McKelvin teamed with her friend Bryana Nguyen, an Atholton High graduate and winner of the past two state high school tournament titles, and they halved their four-ball match against Virginia's Kristin Hearp and Sienna Ferrick.
McKelvin said she played better the first day despite the tie – she chipped in for a birdie from about 35 feet away on the first hole, she said, to set the tone. Day 2 was more convincing, however, with McKelvin and two teammates posting shutout singles wins and three teams points apiece.
"It's not like we just barely won. We killed them," McKelvin said. "It was crazy. We just had such a strong team."
McKelvin said her team's strategy was to barrage Virginia with twosomes of strong players, rather than mix and match based on skill level. It worked, even with Team Maryland struggling to recruit enough players this summer for the Poindexter Cup.
"That's what golf is all about, and I'm trying to ingrain that in everyone's head," McKelvin said. "This is what golf should be about ... we're so competitive in these tournaments, but we're having a blast while we're doing it."
McKelvin said the team win was bittersweet, with teammates Nguyen and Marriotts Ridge grad Rachel Lee having made their final Cup appearance. Next summer will be McKelvin's finale, if she fares well enough during junior tournaments and qualifies through the state's point system.
But she's enjoying a rather light schedule this summer before high school golf begins next month. McKelvin tied for first at the Peggy Kirk Bell Tour Masters in North Carolina back in April, with a two-day score of 151 before losing in a playoff.
McKelvin placed fourth at last year's high school state tourney after winning county and district tournament titles. She averaged 37.9 strokes per nine holes, lowest in Carroll County.
McKelvin committed to UNC-Greensboro in the offseason and linked her decision to coach Sarah Sargent. But when Sargent left after one year to take the same job at James Madison, McKelvin's world changed.
"I immediately burst into tears. I was a mess," McKelvin said about her reaction when she first heard the news. "It was the most overwhelming thing."
McKelvin said Sargent floated the idea of the two going to JMU together. It took her a few days to make another college decision. McKelvin, whose first visit of the JMU campus was this week, said she's not sure she would have played collegiate golf had she stayed at UNC-Greensboro without Sargent.
"James Madison is a better school ... it has a better business program, which is what I want to major in, and my favorite person in the whole world, Sarah Sargent, is going there," McKelvin said. "So why would I not go there?"
Emotions are high for McKelvin these days, with her final year of high school golf and one last shot at a state championship before college comes into view. She said goodbye to some friends and teammates at the Poindexter Cup, but she'll be ready if given the chance next year to help Maryland defend its title.
"It was a little bit emotional because it was Bryana and Rachel's last tournament," McKelvin said. "It was upsetting for me, because I'm always the one who hangs out with the older kids. It was hard for me to know that I'll be done next year. It's really crazy how fast everything's going."