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Howard County sports notebook: Hobbit’s Glen PGA Junior League advances to first regional golf championship

The 2019 Hobbit's Glen PGA Junior League program all-star squad poses for a photo together during August.
The 2019 Hobbit's Glen PGA Junior League program all-star squad poses for a photo together during August. (photo courtesy of Paul Maurer)

A year after winning the program’s first Middle Atlantic fall section PGA Junior League title, the Hobbit’s Glen junior squad is building on last year’s success and heading for an even bigger stage.

The Hobbit’s Glen traveling team, which is made up of 10 players between the ages of 8-13, will compete in the regional championship at Springfield Golf and County club on Sept. 21-22. The other three teams to qualify are the 1757 All Stars from Virginia, the Charlotte 3 All Stars from North Carolina and the Morganton All Stars from North Carolina.

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This is the first time that the program has advanced past the section championship round of the National postseason.

“We have, for the first time, 10 really talented individual players that have had individual successes. Our biggest challenge now is take those successes and bringing it together to compete well as a team,” said PGA coach Paul Maurer. “Without knowing much about the other teams at the region tournament, even though we lost to 757 at the section finals, I think our performance there at the section championship proved to ourselves that we can play with anybody.”

The region title will be decided in a round-robin format, where the team with the best record will advance to the National Championship later this fall at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ.

This year’s travel team from Hobbit’s consists of Mark Berg, Argyle Downes, Nathan Eldridge, William Griffith, Minh Le, Daniel Park, Jason Park, Benjamin Siriboury, Helen Yeung and Michelle Yeung. They earned their spots based on a skills assessment and qualifier that pulled from the 50 kids involved in the spring program at the course.

Getting to the region championship took several strong performances during the month of August.

The team started by qualifying for the Middle Atlantic Section Championship at Landsdowne Resort by beating out Baltimore South, Baltimore North and Northeast Maryland All Stars on Aug. 10.

The following week at the section championship, Hobbit’s Glen then defeated the Roanoke All Stars in round 1 by a score of 6.5-5.5 and the South River All Stars in the semifinals by a score of 9-3. The team did fall short in the finals against 1757 by a score of 7.5-4.5, but each of the top two teams advance to the regional championship.

Fletcher making most of Division I football opportunity at Ball State
Ball State running back Walter Fletcher (20) runs past Indiana defensive back Jaylin Williams (23) on his way to a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. Indiana defeated Ball State 34-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Ball State running back Walter Fletcher (20) runs past Indiana defensive back Jaylin Williams (23) on his way to a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. Indiana defeated Ball State 34-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (Michael Conroy/AP)

Since graduating a little over five years ago as one of the most decorated running backs in Centennial High history, Walter Fletcher’s football journey has been a wild and unpredictable one.

What started with a preferred walk-on spot on the roster at Towson University quickly fizzled out and led to a few months at East Coast Prep and Randolph Macon. It wasn’t until 2016 that Fletcher finally got his chance on a football field at the collegiate level for Division II Edinboro University and he made the most of it — setting several program records over three seasons and garnering first team all-conference and all-region honors in both 2017 and 2018.

But this past spring, after graduating early, Fletcher decided he wasn’t quite ready to be done with football. So he seized an opportunity to join the Ball State University football team as a graduate transfer and challenge his theory that he could succeed at the Division I level.

So far, so good.

Through two games, Fletcher has rushed for 47 yards and a touchdown to go along with eight catches for 122 yards and another score.

His first trip into the end zone, which came on a 45-yard catch and run in the third quarter against Indiana on Aug. 31, was a particularly emotional moment.

“It was surreal and it was one of those things where it kind of all just hit me all at once … all my hard work with football had finally paid off,” Fletcher said. “It’s hard to explain how rewarding that feeling was, especially considering what my journey with football has been these last few years.”

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Fletcher backed up the debut performance with a 10-yard rushing touchdown against Fordham last weekend, and he will now try to keep the momentum going against Florida Atlantic this Saturday. He says, even with a little bit of early success, he’s as hungry as ever.

“Coming from Division II, that feeling of needing to prove myself I don’t think will ever go away. I will always have a chip on my shoulder,” Fletcher said. “Being my last season of football, I want to make a bowl game and keep proving to everyone that I belong at this level.”

Lang joins University of Maryland cross country as volunteer coach
Phil Lang, a Howard County Strider, smiles for a portrait at the parking lot of Howard Community College Thursday, July 16, 2009. (File photo by Matt Roth)
Phil Lang, a Howard County Strider, smiles for a portrait at the parking lot of Howard Community College Thursday, July 16, 2009. (File photo by Matt Roth) (Matt Roth / Patuxent Publishing)

Columbia resident and longtime cross country and track coach Phil Lang, who led the Oakland Mills programs for over two decades while also serving as a member of the Howard County Striders Board of Directors during that same time period, is making the transition to the college ranks this fall.

Lang was recently named a volunteer coach for the University of Maryland distance runners and women’s cross country team. The move not only gives him the chance to coach and share his knowledge at the next level, but also the opportunity to be close to his daughter Brit Lang as she embarks on her senior year with the Terps.

“Coach [Andrew] Valmon wanted another person on staff to give the athletes as much support as the school could provide and he mentioned this to Brit last fall that he was thinking that I would be that person,” Lang said. “He wanted to know what she thought about it as this is her senior year and she was supportive of the idea and he then discussed it with my wife and myself.”

Lang is working closely with new head distance coach Chelsea France, who came on board over the summer, and associate head coach Danielle Siebert.

“Being there at practice and at the meets and sharing my passion and love for the sport with the current team appears to be the primary focus, but of course connecting with the next group of potential Terps, specifically in this area, will be part of the plan as well,” Lang said. “I could not be more excited for the opportunity and will sure try to provide all I can to help the kids be as successful as they can be.”

The current Maryland group of runners certainly has plenty of Howard County natives on board in addition to Lang — with Alexandra Hargrett (Atholton), Anna Latzko (River Hill), Courtney Mann (Howard), Camryn Streib (Atholton) and Jazmine Tiamfook (River Hill) all on the fall 2019 roster.

Maryland finished third at the season-opening Mount St. Mary’s 5k duals. Brit Lang was the second finisher for the Terps in 12th place, posting a time of 18:31.65.

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