State of bliss - County qualifies four for Md. golf tourney

September 28, 1999

Matt HessBy BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Ashley Grier's priorities are simple.

"I was just trying to stay dry," said the member of the Smithsburg golf team. "And now, I just want to do better than I did last year."

Grier will get the chance. The sophomore was the girls medalist - and only female qualifier - by shooting an 85 at the Maryland West Regional Golf Tournament played Tuesday at Black Rock Golf Course.

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She easily stole the county show as one of the four players who qualified for next month's state championships at University of Maryland. That was the easy part. The next step was more challenging.


"I'm glad I qualified ... I thought I could because I usually shoot below 103 (the girl's qualifying score)," Grier said. "But I started out really bad and didn't get things going until after the first nine."

It was a day of changing conditions for the 20 Class 1A-2A and three Class 3A-4A teams trying to qualify for a shot at the state title. Early rains made the course wet and soggy at the start, but helped later on, especially slowing down the pace on Black Rock's quick greens.

Walkersville took advantage of the conditions to put up a team score of 318 to win the Class 1A-2A title and become one of three teams to advance to the state tournament. Jimmy Cunningham led the Lions with a 77 and Doug Ogg added a 79 as all five Walkersville golfers shot 85 or under.

"Our goal all year long was to get to states. We did it," said Walkersville coach Bruce Zimmerman. "The conditions didn't bother us, but we can play better. Cunningham can score better than he did and so can our No. 2 and No. 3 players."

Low scorer James Hockman fired a 71 to lead Urbana into second place at 322, while Catoctin qualified for its first trip to the states behind Jack Blickenstaff's 73. Thomas Johnson won the Class 3A-4A title by shooting 335, bettering North Hagerstown by three strokes.

T.J.'s Oskar Aspergren was the 3A-4A medalist with an 80, but North's Kevin Barkow carded an 81 and teammate Ryan Allen had an 83 to make the Hubs one of three schools sending two individuals to states.

Barkow and Allen started on the back nine because of the tournament's shotgun start and came out of the blocks flying.

"I started on No. 17 and everything started clicking," Barkow said. "I started playing real well on No. 18. Making it to states is a big accomplishment because I shot a 95 here last year and I have improved and practiced to get better."

For Allen, it was a chance to get past his trouble spots early, starting with No. 12.

"I usually have trouble on No. 12 and 13, but I started off well right away," he said. "It was big to get that good start."

The last of the Washington County quartet to qualify was Williamsport's Steve Miles, who was the county medalist with a 78.

That, in itself, shocked Miles.

"I haven't been playing very well," the sophomore, first-time qualifier said. "I liked that it was wet out here because it slowed the greens down and allowed me to shoot at the (flag)sticks. I started on No. 14 and from there to No. 7, I was pretty consistent."

With the first hurdle out of the way, return qualifiers Grier and Allen can get to the next part of their agenda.

"I'm a sophomore, but I qualified last year," said Grier. "I just want to do better ... I didn't do that well down there last year."

But Allen was a little more specific, making this season and the regional stepping stones to bigger things.

"I got there last year, but I want to prove I could do better than last year," Allen said. "That has been my goal all year. Last year, I shot a 90-92 at the states. This time, I'll be thrilled to shoot in the 70s."

Allen, and three others, will get that opportunity.

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