In a few short years, Glenelg’s Caleb Taylor has learned plenty about perspective.
How he approaches failure or falling short of the lofty expectations he has for himself isn’t the same today as it was when he was a freshman first teeing it up for the Gladiators.
So following this year’s state championship tournament, where he ended up in fourth place and three shots short of the title he set out to win all the way back in August, Taylor didn’t get angry.
He got hungry.
“I was definitely disappointed to fall short, yes. But I was also able to step back and realize pretty quickly that while winning was my goal, it’s not the only thing. In that sense, I’ve matured a lot,” Taylor said. “I’ve set a lot of goals for myself, some I’ve reached and others I haven’t. But the biggest key I’ve learned is to figure out how to use those failures as motivation.
“Everything is about getting better … making sure I’m always looking forward.”
History says adding a little extra fuel to the fire can go a long way for Taylor.
His freshman year in 2017, he shot an 83 at the District V championship tournament and ended up missing the cut to make states by two strokes. He vowed to make amends the following year and did so in a big way, winning with an even-par round of 72.
As a sophomore in 2018, Taylor lost in a playoff at the county championship tournament. This year, he came back even more determined and ended up winning the event outright with a score (74) in regulation that was one clear of the field and two shots better than his own score from a season earlier.
“I’ve learned that I’m at my best when I have that thing in the back of my head constantly driving me ... a reminder of what I’m working toward,” Taylor said.
In reality, Taylor was better in almost every aspect as a junior for the Gladiators this fall. He raised his scoring average during the regular season to 24.9 points per match — up from 21.8 points per match last year.
He was in the top four in each of the postseason events, including the victory at the county tournament and a tie for second at districts. At states, his fourth-place finish with a two-day total of 152 showcased a four-stroke improvement over his sophomore year.
It’s because of that overall consistency from the middle of August through the end of October that Taylor has been named the 2019 Howard County Boys Golf Player of the Year.
“Caleb is a true competitor and he sets the bar very high for himself, no matter if it’s a nine-hole match during the regular season or one of the 18-hole tournaments at the end of the year,” Glenelg coach Chris Beil said. “I do think sometimes it’s easy to overlook how good he was across the board because the expectations are really high. But he definitely was improved this fall. His length off the tee has increased — he hits the ball straight and far — and after switching putters over the summer he was much better on the greens.”
Taylor scored 22 points or more in every match this fall, including a season-high 29 points in a tri-match against River Hill and Howard at Cattail Creek.
Just as importantly, he helped with the development of the younger players on the team — specifically sophomore Michael Gloth — so that the Gladiators could flip their record from 2018. This fall, Glenelg went 7-4 and went on to qualify for the state tournament as a team.
“Caleb deserves a lot of credit for helping those guys elevate their game, especially the way he kind of took Michael under his wing,” Beil said. “He has a way of bringing out the best in people.”
At the District V tournament, Taylor ended up in a tie for second with a round of 75 — five strokes behind champion Cam Deiuliis of River Hill.
He came back a week later, though, and broke through for his first county championship title with a two-over-par round of 74. He held off a tightly packed leaderboard by playing his back nine in even par.
Taylor’s state tournament featured consistency, as he fired back-to-back rounds of 76 to finish alone in fourth place and three shots behind champion Gavin Ganter of La Plata. But the fact remains that a state title is the lone postseason championship he has yet to win and will be the top item on his to-do list moving forward.
“There’s a bad taste in my mouth and it’s going to stay with me now until next fall,” Taylor said. “I know that I can do it, win a state title. I just need to use this feeling and hunger to drive me.”
Also named to the All-County first team are:
Justin Allen, Marriotts Ridge, junior
Season highlights: While there were no postseason victories for Allen this fall, a season after he won the county championship in a playoff, there was still tangible progress. He boosted his regular-season scoring average to 23.4 points per match for a Mustangs’ program that finished undefeated once again. His season high was a 29-point effort in a victory over Reservoir at Waverly Woods. He finished 10th at the county tournament with a round of 80 and then improved by a stroke over last year at the District V tournament with a 77 that placed him in fifth. Allen then posted a two-day total of 156 (75-81) to finish tied for 26th in 3A/4A at the state tournament.
Cam Deiuliis, River Hill, senior
Season highlights: On his way to establishing himself as the top player for the Hawks, Deiuliis had several marquee performances. The first came during a victory over Reservoir at Fairway Hills, where he fired a two-under-par round of 29 points to set the new River Hill 9-hole match record. He finished the regular season with a scoring average of 23.8, which was tied for fourth best in the county. Deiuliis then broke through for the first postseason title of his career at the District V tournament in convincing fashion, firing a two-under-par round of 70 to win by five strokes. He was alone in third at the county tournament with a round of 76 and then wrapped up the season with an opening-round score of 85 at the 3A/4A state tournament, missing the final round by one shot.
Akash Marakath, Marriotts Ridge, junior
Season highlights: Marakath was the top male finisher for the Mustangs at both the District V and state championship tournaments, building on a strong regular season. For the county-champion Mustangs (11-0), he averaged 23.7 points per match with a season high of 26 points in a season-opening victory over Howard at the Timbers at Troy. At the county championship tournament, Marakath fired a 79 to place in a tie for sixth. He was tied for second at districts with a round of 75. Finally, he wrapped up his season with a two-day total of 152 (78-74) to place tied for 14th in 3A/4A at the state tournament.
Branden Nguyen, Atholton, senior
Season highlights: Nguyen graduates as only the second player in Raiders’ program history to make first-team All-County for four straight years — joining Morgan Hill (2007-2010). While he never captured that elusive postseason championship, Nguyen did establish himself as one of the area’s most consistent players. He averaged a county-best 26.4 points per match during the regular season, firing a season-best 29 points (2-under) at Waverly Woods against Marriotts Ridge. He tied for fourth at the county championship tournament with a 77 and was alone in fourth at the District V tournament with a 76. Nguyen then finished his high school career with a two-day total of 148 (73-75) to place in a tie for seventh in 3A/4A at the state tournament.
Dustin Stocksdale, Centennial, freshman
Season highlights: There were high expectations surrounding Stocksdale entering his debut campaign and he lived up to all of them. His scoring average of 23.8 points per match, which included a season-high 26 points on two occasions, was tied for fourth best among county players during the regular season. He then finished in the top seven all three postseason events, tying for fourth with a 77 at the county tournament and tying for sixth with a 78 at the District V tournament. Stocksdale then wrapped up his season with a two-day total of 148 (72-76) to tie for seventh in 3A/4A at the state tournament — tied with Atholton’s Nguyen for the best score by a county player.
Daniel Tuma, Marriotts Ridge, sophomore
Season highlights: It was a season of huge leaps forward for Tuma, whose progression as a player went a long way toward keeping Marriotts Ridge atop the county for a seventh straight season. He improved his scoring average by nearly six points over last fall, up to 24 points per match — tops on his team and third best among county players. His best round of 26 points came in a tri-match sweep of River Hill and Centennial that clinched the county championship. Tuma finished tied for 13th at the county tournament with an 84, tied for sixth at the District V tournament with a 78 and then wrapped up his season with a two-day total of 158 (80-78) to finish in 31st at the 3A/4A state tournament.
Cam Campbell, Atholton, freshman; Jackson Graves, River Hill, senior; Justin Gutierrez, Reservoir, sophomore; Josh Lee, Marriotts Ridge, senior; Ty Sams, Centennial, senior; Jai Sheth, Howard, sophomore.
1. Marriotts Ridge (11-0 county); 2. Centennial (10-1); 3. River Hill (9-2); 4. Glenelg (7-4); 4. Reservoir (7-4); 6. Atholton (6-5); 6. Howard (6-5); 8. Mt. Hebron (3-8); 8. Wilde Lake (3-8); 10. Hammond (2-9); 10. Oakland Mills (2-9); 12. Long Reach (0-12).