Cooler temperatures and a soft golf course made for perfect scoring conditions at the District V championship tournament on Tuesday.
And, on what ended up being a historic day at Crofton Country Club, the top golfers from Howard and Anne Arundel County took advantage.
Marriotts Ridge set the pace with a combined score of 304 to walk away with the team championship, headlining a group of seven teams — five from Howard County and two from Anne Arundel — that ended up qualifying for the state championship tournament later this month at the University of Maryland.
For a Mustangs program that has bumped up to the more competitive 3A/4A classification this fall, the team total and 13-shot victory over second-place Centennial (317) was as much about continuing tradition as it was about building confidence.
Marriotts Ridge has now won the overall district title — regardless of classification — seven of the last eight years.
“The team title is always special, but more than that today was really about proving to ourselves that we could put up a number that will put us in the running when we get to that state tournament … and I think we accomplished that,” Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. “We know what’s ahead of us and that we are going to need to be around that 300 number, so today was an important step.”
Marriotts Ridge’s team success ended up as just one piece of a Howard County sweep at the district event for a second straight season.
River Hill senior Cam Deiuliis talks about his winning round of 70 at the District V Championship tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.
River Hill’s Cam Deiuliis made five birdies on his way to a round of 70 (2-under par) and a five-shot victory in the boys individual competition, while Faith McIlvain overcame a few stumbles during the middle of her round to post a 74 and repeat as the girls individual champ.
The top eight individual finishers for the boys, along with three of the top four girls, came from Howard County schools.
Deiuliis’ breakthrough victory was all about the start. The Hawks’ senior opened with birdies on three of his first five holes, including coming within inches of a hole-in-one on the par 3 ninth hole — his second hole of the day.
There were several bogeys and birdies mixed in down the stretch, but Deiuliis managed to stay under par for the entirety of his round.
“For me to come out and just absolutely knock them tight on those first five holes was unbelievable and it really allowed me to change my focus,” said Deiuliis, who had never previously won a postseason high school tournament. “Instead of having to worry about making the cut, I could instead just worry about playing my game. In some ways, I felt like starting like that took the pressure off.”
Deiuliis ended up winning by a comfortable margin over second-place finishers Caleb Taylor of Glenelg (75) and Akash Marakath of Marriotts Ridge (75). But it wasn’t until the latter stages of his round that things truly began to open up.
Taylor made an eagle on his seventh hole to temporarily get himself to 3-under par and into a share of the lead. Ultimately, however, a pair of double bogeys on the back nine undid Taylor’s round. Atholton’s Branden Nguyen, who finished fourth with a 76, had pulled to within one shot with a birdie on his 15th hole. But he too stumbled with a double bogey down the stretch.
And while those around him fell off, Deiuliis delivered big shots time and time again. No shot was bigger than a 20-foot curling par putt on his fourth-to-last hole that kept his momentum going in the right direction.
“I would say that was probably the biggest putt of my round because I had made bogeys on two of the three holes right before that and I needed something to steady myself,” he said. “For that putt to fall, especially at the time that it did, was absolutely huge because it pumped me up and carried me to finish strong.”
Deiuliis went on to make a birdie on his 17th hole and par on the last to solidify the lowest competitive round of his golfing career.
Marriotts Ridge's Faith McIlvain talks about her winning score of 74 at the District V Championship tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.
McIlvain had to fend off her own bevy of challengers on the way to earning her second straight district title. In fact, heading to the par 3 fifth hole — her 15th of the day — she was sitting tied for the lead with Howard’s Logan Lurie.
It was there that the tournament shifted, however. McIlvain made a birdie and Lurie made a bogey for a two-shot swing that gave the Mustangs’ senior a lead she never lost again.
“The girls in my group were playing amazing and they’ve improved so much these last few years, but I think the way they were playing was what made me push myself even harder,” McIlvain said. “Being a senior, I knew that I had to step it up and make something happen.”
McIlvain ended up closing her round with four straight pars to earn a four-shot victory over Lurie. Arundel’s Angelina Hwang finished third with a 79, while Centennial’s Morgan Taylor was fourth with an 80.
While Lurie ended up falling short of the title, the day was an overall success. Her score was 12 shots better than last year and marks the lowest competitive round of her career.
“I’ve made some mistakes in the past of letting myself get in my own head, but today I really did a great job of staying in the moment and not thinking about anything other than the shot I was about to hit,” Lurie said. “I had a strong front nine and gave myself a chance, which was my goal coming into today.”
Severna Park and Arundel were two of the record-setting seven teams from District V to qualify for this year's state championship golf tournament, which is scheduled for the end of the month at the University of Maryland.
Anne Arundel teams Severna Park (328), Arundel (336) and South River (337) rounded out the top five squads. But in addition to Marriotts Ridge and Centennial, Howard County ended up also advancing River Hill (338), Howard (341) and Glenelg (352) to the state championship tournament. Both River Hill and Howard had females among their top four to increase their qualifying number to 341, while Glenelg advanced courtesy of being the top 1A/2A team in the field.
In addition to the teams, Atholton’s Nguyen (76), South River’s Joey Fidyk (79), North County’s Karlie Zamora (82) and Severna Park’s Campbell Haney (90) also advanced to the state championship event as individuals.