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Marriotts Ridge golf has state-record team title streak end at seven

For the first time since 2010, no Howard County team or individual was crowned as a champion at the state championship golf tournament at the University of Maryland.

Marriotts Ridge saw its state-record run of seven straight team titles snapped, moving up to the 3A/4A classification this fall and finishing in fourth place with a two-day total of 614. Individually, Marriotts Ridge’s Faith McIlvain, Atholton’s Branden Nguyen, Centennial’s Dustin Stocksdale, Glenelg’s Caleb Taylor and Centennial’s Morgan Taylor all competed well in their respective fields and classifications before settling for top 10 finishes.

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A lack of hardware, however, didn’t completely overshadow what was overall a tournament filled with personal-best scores by Howard County players at the season-ending event.

Even for Marriotts Ridge, which posted matching scores of 307 in the semifinal and final rounds, there was plenty to be proud of in defeat. The Mustangs, which had been the class of 1A/2A every year since 2012 before being bumped up as part of the reclassification prior to this school year, tied its third-lowest team total during the program’s title run.

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It just wasn’t enough to crack the top three in 3A/4A this fall, as Churchill (603), Wootton (605) and Urbana (605) battled it out at the top.

“It’s tough [to fall short], but I think we also learned a lot about ourselves and proved that we are a heck of a good program regardless of classification,” Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said. “Win or lose, with the way we played, we represented Howard County very well and we showed we can hang at this level. It says a lot about these kids that they came out and posted one of the top scores we’ve ever had here.”

On a day where scores overall were as low as they have ever been at the 3A/4A state championship golf tournament, Westminster's Aaron Sorkin grabs the boys individual lead in front of a crowded leaderboard during the opening day of play at the University of Maryland Wednesday morning.

McIlvain set the pace for the Mustangs with her back-to-back 74s (148) that placed her in a tie for sixth individually among the 3A/4A girls. She entered the final round five strokes behind North Point’s Bailey Davis and Churchill’s Kaylin Yeoh, but methodically chipped away at the deficit to pull into a tie for the lead midway through the final round.

A birdie on the ninth hole helped McIlvain make the turn at even par for the day and sit all square with Davis.

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“Coming in, I knew it was a big gap so I really focused on my game and tried not to worry about what the others were doing,” McIlvain said. “Knowing that it’s my senior year, I really wanted to go out with a strong score … that was my main goal and I think that helped me start strong.”

But just as things tightened, Davis responded. The North Point standout, who won the 3A/4A individual title in 2017 and 2018, made birdie on the 10th hole to retake the lead and she never lost it again.

Even with a bogey on the final hole, she ended up posting a two-day total of 145 (3-over-par) to win by two shots over a group of four players at 147. McIlvain finished three shots behind, but her total was still five shots better than her 153 winning-score in 1A/2A as a junior.

Davis joins Churchill’s Kim Cayce (1986-88) and Northeast’s Stephanie Connelly (2001, 2002 and 2004) as the only females to ever win three Maryland golf individual state championships.

Centennial’s Morgan Taylor also played her way into the top 10 with back-to-back rounds of 78 (156) to place in a tie for ninth. A year ago, she had fired an opening-day 94 and failed to even qualify for day two.

Taylor’s strong play, combined with freshman Dustin Stocksdale posting a total of 148 (T7. 72-76), led the way for Centennial to place in a tie for sixth as a team (635) — the highest finish the program has ever had at states.

Stocksdale, making his state-tournament debut, was within two shots of the leaders following a birdie on his fourth hole of the day (No. 13). But a couple double bogeys in the middle of his round dropped him off the pace and he ended up seven strokes behind 3A/4A champion Jake Griffin of Walter Johnson (141).

The other scorers for Centennial were Ty Sams (162) and Klaus Wood (169). Marriotts Ridge, which ended up 21 strokes ahead of the Eagles, saw its scoring group rounded out by Akash Marakath (152), Justin Allen (156) and Daniel Tuma (158).

Nguyen of Atholton entered the final day three strokes behind the lead in 3A/4A, but he made a serious charge on his front nine by making three birdies in a five-hole stretch to get to two-under for the day and even overall for the championship. At that time, eight holes in, he was just two behind the lead.

“My whole focus was putting myself in play off my tee shot and then I made my first birdie of the day on No. 12 and that helped me start building momentum,” Nguyen said. “I knew I had some scoring opportunities over the next few holes, with a couple par 5s, and I was able to really take advantage.”

Just as the momentum was picking up, though, Nguyen made a bogey on No. 17 and played his next three holes in four-over-par. He played well after that, but still ended up placing in a tie for seventh with a two-day total of 148 (73-75) — 16 shots better than in 2018.

The leaderboards are tightly packed after the opening round of the 2019 1A/2A state championship golf tournament, which was held Tuesday at the University of Maryland golf course.

In 1A/2A, Caleb Taylor of Glenelg ended up setting a personal best as well at the state tournament with a two-day total of 152 to place alone in fourth. He posted a score of 76 on each day and briefly made a move toward the leaders with back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes in the final round, before being undone by a couple untimely bogeys and a double bogey coming in.

He finished three shots behind 1A/2A boys individual champion Gavin Ganter of La Plata.

“It’s tough because I set high expectations for myself and I expected to be right there this year. And I thought when I went back-to-back [birdies] there, I was going to put myself in the mix, but it just didn’t happen. I started giving away shots on chips and putts, things I normally don’t do. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”

In the 1A/2A individual girls competition, Patterson Mill’s Paula Moon won her first state title with a combined score of 156, winning by six over Oakdale’s Elizabeth Tucci. Oakdale ended up winning the 1A/2A team title in a four-hole playoff over Linganore after both teams finished with scores of 659 during regulation.

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