Howard County will be looking to continue its recent string of dominant play when the District V Championships get underway Oct. 20 at Fairway Hills.
Each of the past three years, Howard County has captured both the boys and girls individual titles and also qualified at least two teams for the season-ending state tournament. This year, after another banner regular season, the expectations are high once again.
"There's some excitement about getting back to a course that we all know and that we've all played at pretty well before," said Marriotts Ridge sophomore Nick Mejia, who is part of a Marriotts Ridge team that has won the District and State Championships each of the last two years. "This is the time when you want to be playing your best golf and I feel like in terms of (our) team, my game has been coming around and Bennett (Buch), Jackson (Courtney) and John (Szymanski) have been consistent all year for us. I feel like we are definitely ready to keep moving forward."
The District V Championships feature teams from Howard and Anne Arundel County, with the boys and girls individuals grouped according to seed.
The top boys group will feature three Howard County players — Glenelg's Steven Segrist, Marriotts Ridge's Bennett Buch and Centennial's Matt McShane. Segrist and Buch were the top two finishers at the Howard County championship tournament in late September, with Segrist winning by one.
In terms of seed score, Howard County features eight of the top 10 boys in this year's District field.
Anne Arundel County's top seeded player is South River freshman Joe Gaulin, who is coming off winning the Anne Arundel county title on Oct. 3 courtesy of an even-par round of 72. Gaulin is also in the first group at Districts.
Broadneck, which is led by Joshua Maisel and Jared Sadegh, was the top team at the county tournament, firing a combined total of 316. South River was right behind at 318.
The top girls group also features a trio of local faces — Mt. Hebron's Josephine Jung, Atholton's Amanda Petersen and Howard's Jackie Cherry. Jung and Petersen were the top girls finishers at this years county tournament, with Jung capturing the first postseason title of her career.
Golfers will be trying to qualify for the state tournament, scheduled for Oct. 27-29 at the University of Maryland golf course, as either part of a team or as an individual.
Teams will be divided into classifications, with Marriotts Ridge, Oakland Mills and Hammond part of Class 2A-1A and each of the county's other nine public schools in Class 4A-3A.
Each team is allowed to enter five players and then can take the top four scorers at the end of the day to make up the team total. The top team in each classification will qualify for states, in addition to any other team that hits the qualifying score of 324 or better.
One of the big changes from the county season to districts is the combination of the boys and girls teams. For some programs, which have strong girls golfers, it's a major advantage.
Atholton, which tied for first as a team in the 4A/3A classification last year at Districts, is among the squads that will benefit this season as Petersen joins a boys group that brings back three players from last year's states team.
"We've joked all fall that if I could be playing with the guys every match then it would have been a completely different season, so I'm definitely looking forward to districts," Petersen said. "This will actually be the first year I'm part of the five players trying to go to states as part of the team. If we play like we are capable, we should have a great chance to make it."
The individual qualifying score fluctuates from year to year based on the number of entrants and the quality of play by the field. Last year, all boys that shot 81 or better qualified for states, while all girls that hit 93 or better made it.
Pairings (as of Oct. 16)
1A: Steven Segrist, Glenelg; Bennett Buch, Marriotts Ridge; Joe Gaulin, South River; Matt McShane, Centennial.
1B: Jackson Courtney, Marriotts Ridge; Patrick Hardy, Mt. Hebron; Young Lee, Glenelg; Joshua Maisel, Broadneck.
18A: Nick Mejia, Marriotts Ridge; Griffin Cosgrove, South River; Timothy Glaser, Southern; Chris Robinson, Atholton.