During the pandemic-shortened season this past spring, Howard County got a glimpse of the young talent that will serve as the face of the local golf scene for years to come.
This fall, that group is ready to introduce itself to the rest of the state.
After a one-year hiatus, postseason golf is set to return in Maryland, and there are plenty of Howard County names capable of thriving on the big stage.
For the first time in county history, a pair of freshmen — River Hill’s Benjamin Siriboury and Helen Yeung — were named Players of the Year during the spring. And, including that duo, the top three male and female finishers at the spring 2021 county championship tournament were players that are set to return this upcoming season.
With the first regular season match taking place on Aug. 24 between Long Reach and Glenelg at Willow Springs, here are a few of the top storylines to keep an eye on:
The Howard County championship tournament has been held at Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club every year since 2012, but this year the event is shifting over to Cattail Creek Country Club. It is the first time since golf returned as a varsity sport in 2005 that the tournament will be held at the private venue.
Only a handful of regular season matches each season over the last decade have been played at Cattail Creek, the home course for Glenelg High. That means there will be a bit of unfamiliarity when the county’s best golfers tee off at 1 p.m. on Oct. 13 for the individual championship.
The course itself, however, will be a good test.
“I feel that it’s one of the most challenging courses in the county,” Glenelg coach Chris Beil said. “Being a private course, I feel like being able to have the county championship here is a wonderful thing and opportunity. There have been AJGA tournaments here in the past, so almost all the top players will be familiar with it despite it being a private course.”
Similar to the most recent season, which was held during spring 2021, golfers will need to qualify for the county championship event.
Boys players must total 44 points in their two best matches during the regular season, while the girls must total 36, in order to qualify for the championship. All Howard County matches are nine holes and are played under a modified Stableford scoring system — awarding five points for an eagle, four for a birdie, three for a par, two for a bogey and one for a double bogey.
Hobbit’s Glen will still play its part in the postseason schedule, though.
The Columbia course will host the District V Championship tournament on Oct. 4 — the first time the event has been held outside Anne Arundel County since Fairway Hills hosted in 2015.
Aside from getting the tournament back on familiar turf, River Hill coach Matt Graves believes the venue will lend itself to quality scores and plenty of state qualifiers.
“It’s a traditional golf course, very fair and very open. It’s a course with no tricks or gimmicks,” Graves said. “We have been fighting for Hobbit’s for awhile because we think it prepares players for the University of Maryland [course].” The University of Maryland Golf Course is scheduled to host the state championship tournament from Oct. 25-27.
In a typical regular season, each team has played every other county team once in either a head-to-head or tri-match. The county team champion has been awarded to the team with the best record.
Only once, during the 2010 season when Wilde Lake finished as county champs with a record of 9-1-1, has there not been an undefeated boys team at the end of the regular season. Similarly, the only time a girls team hasn’t finished undefeated was when three teams (Howard, Marriotts Ridge and Wilde Lake) tied for the county title at 10-1 in 2015.
This year, however, there are no tri-matches and every team has only six play dates. The first five matches will be against members of each team’s respective division and then the sixth match will see the corresponding teams from each division square off. That means the No. 1 seed in Division A will play the No. 1 seed in Division B for the county championship, and so on down the standings.
Here are the divisions breakdowns:
Division A: Atholton, Hammond, Howard, Oakland Mills, River Hill and Wilde Lake
Division B: Centennial, Glenelg, Long Reach, Marriotts Ridge, Mt. Hebron and Reservoir
Keeping the streak alive
There were no team scores kept during the shortened spring 2021 season. That means that the regular-season winning streak for Marriotts Ridge boys golf is still alive at 77 straight matches.
The Mustangs have won every single meeting against county competition since the beginning of the 2013 campaign.
There have been plenty of close calls, including a win by one point against River Hill in 2018 and a two-point victory over Centennial in 2019, but the Mustangs have continually found ways to prevail.
This year, there has been significant turnover for the team with the graduation of first team All-County performers Justin Allen and Akash Marakath. In their absence, the reigns are now in the hands of returning second team All-County players junior Sagmin Lee and senior Daniel Tuma. Freshman Jonathan Moon is also a name to keep an eye on after posting 26 points in the team’s first match this season.
In terms of the team streak, though, only Tuma has experience playing in those pressure matches.
“This group is so young, with only one senior and one junior, that I don’t think they feel much of the pressure. They just don’t know enough yet about the history and the streak,” Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. “In truth, I thought we were going to take a step back this year, but then in tryouts they put up 101 points and my outlook has changed a bit. I’m excited to see them grow as the season goes along.”
River Hill, Howard, Centennial and Reservoir — all of which return a first team All-County performer — are among the top contenders to challenge the Mustangs boys.
On the girls side, there has been a different county champion for three straight seasons. Marriotts Ridge won in 2019, preceded by Centennial in 2018 and Howard in 2017.
The defending county-champion Mustangs have plenty of firepower at their disposal, headlined by a first team All-County performer in junior Alana Alexander-Giles. Joining her as players to watch are Erin Jeong, a transfer from Centennial after making second-team All-County in 2019, and freshman Lila Becker.
The team already burst out of the gates this fall, tying a county girls record for best single-match score with 86 points against Mt. Hebron at Fairway Hills. The score ties the record set by Atholton on Oct. 3, 2013 in a match played at the Timbers at Troy (see recap below for more on the record-tying effort).
Aside from Yeung at River Hill, there are also three other returning first-team All-County girls golfers entering their sophomore seasons — Glenelg’s Megan Kirkpatrick, Centennial’s Reagan Hubbard and Reservoir’s Riyana Patel.
Opening week box scores:
Glenelg 72, Long Reach 40 (Tuesday at Willow Springs)
Glenelg cruised behind strong efforts from senior Michael Gloth (23 points) and sophomore Ellis Waak (20). Matt Peters led Long Reach with 12 points.
G (1-0): Gloth 23, Waak 20, Glassman 16, McAllister 13.
LR (0-1): Peters 12, Hassan 10, Filler 9, An 9.
Centennial 48, Reservoir 45 (Wednesday at Timbers at Troy)
The Eagles edged the Gators behind the lead tandem of Dustin Stocksdale (17 points) and Ty Beck-Winter (16). Stocksdale did not play the final three holes due to cramping. Reservoir’s Justin Gutierrez led all scorers with 22 points.
C (1-0): Stocksdale 17, Beck-Winter 16, Trojillo 9, Longwell 6.
Re (0-1): Gutierrez 22, Davlin 11, Kim 10, Green 2.
Marriotts Ridge 94, Mt. Hebron 37 (Wednesday at Fairway Hills)
In the opening-day match, the Mustangs were paced by Sangmin Lee (27 points) and Jonathan Moon (26).
MR (1-0): Lee 27, Moon 26, Tuma 23, Saraf 18.
MH (0-1): Tyler Kang 14, Ethan Kang 8, France-Kelly 8, Fleck 7.
Atholton 44, Hammond 42 (Wednesday at Hobbits Glen)
Sophomore Andrew Christiansen scored a match-best 16 points to help the Raiders edge the Golden Bears.
A (1-0): Christiansen 16, Cho 10, McKellar 9, Peterson 9.
Ha (0-1): Liguori 13, Connor Walls 11, Ridgell 9, Mason Walls 9.
River Hill 94, Oakland Mills 64 (Thursday at Willow Springs)
The Hawks had all four of their players score 22 or more points, with Collin Reagan and Benjamin Siriboury leading the way with two-over-par round of 25. Alex Tamai (23 points) and Heath Franklin each made a birdie during their rounds and were the leaders for Oakland Mills.
RH (1-0): Reagan 25, Siriboury 25, Berg 22, Spies 22.
OM (0-1): Tamai 23, Franklin 17, Cowell 12, Fernandez 12.
Howard 40, Wilde Lake 12 (Thursday at Timbers at Troy)
The boys players only got in four holes because of lightning, but the Lions were off to a roaring start. Dev Sheth was one-under par (13 points) and Jai Sheth (12) was even through the holes they did play. For Wilde Lake, Henry Hilger had 11 points when play was halted.
Ho (1-0): Dev Sheth 13, Jai Sheth 12, Heiger 9, Vale 6.
WL (0-1): Hilger 11, Parker 1.
Glenelg 63, Long Reach 26 (Tuesday at Willow Springs)
Sophomore Megan Kirkpatrick led the way with a two-over-par round of 25 points, while junior Amber Kostick added a career-high 19 points for Glenelg. Emma Koesch paced Long Reach with a career-high 17 points.
G (1-0): Kirkpatrick 25, Kostick 19, Paik 11, Vanderpool 8.
LR (0-1): Koesch 17, Grace 6, Taylor 3.
Centennial 50, Reservoir 34 (Wednesday at Timbers at Troy)
Junior Hannah Fang scored a career-best 22 points and sophomore Reagan Hubbard was right behind her with 19 to lead the Eagles to the victory. Reservoir sophomores Riyana Patel and Payton Pullen also had strong days with 19 and 14 points, respectively.
C (1-0): Fang 22, Hubbard 19, Shah 9.
Re (0-1): Patel 19, Pullen 14, Ro 1.
Marriotts Ridge 86, Mt. Hebron 24 (Wednesday at Fairway Hills)
The Mustangs made an opening-day statement, tying the best single-round score ever by a Howard County girls team during a regular season match. Junior Alana Alexander-Giles led the way with a one-under-par round of 28 points, making three birdies along the way. She had plenty of help, though, with freshman Lila Becker posting a three-over par round of 24 in her debut match to go along with strong efforts from Erin Jeong (18) and Morgan Swidersky (16).
MR (1-0): Alexander-Giles 28, Becker 24, Jeong 18, Swidersky 16.
MH (0-1): Bodziak 9, Katcheves 6, Wang 6, Carberry 3.
Atholton 21, Hammond 0 (Wednesday at Hobbits Glen)
Freshman Cate Lee debuted with a team-high 12 points to lead the Raiders to victory.
A (1-0): Lee 12, Khorjekar 4, Shah 4, Kadingo 1.
Ha (0-1): N/A.
River Hill 48, Oakland Mills 27 (Thursday at Willow Springs)
Even without star Helen Yeung, the Hawks put up a strong opening-day score behind 16 points apiece from Carolina Herrera and Mehar Sandhu. Chloe Koh, who scored on every hole, led the way with 15 points for the Scorpions.
RH (1-0): Herrera 16, Sandhu 16, Lynott 11, Baek 5.
OM (0-1): Koh 15, Hoffman 10, Fernandez 2.
Wilde Lake 22, Howard 0 (Thursday at Timbers at Troy)
The girls players only got in three holes because of lightning, yet the Wildecats cruised. Shreya Suresh played her three holes in 8 points (one-over par) to lead the day for Wilde Lake.
WL (1-0): Suresh 8, Mhonda 7, L. Sands 6, Bowen 1.
Ho (0-1): N/A.