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Smithsburg captures district title

September 24, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

The Smithsburg golf team has been looking for total balance in its lineup and, on Tuesday, it all came together in the Maryland 2A/1A District 1 tournament at Black Rock Golf Course.

Smithsburg, which won the state title in 2005, ran away with the district title, posting 317 strokes, far ahead of second place Middletown (334). This will mark Smithsburg's fourth state appearance as a team.

"All along, I said a key for us would be our third and fourth players," said Smithsburg coach Dan Neff. "All season I've been trying to convince the 3 through 6 players they can play."

And it wasn't the usual name that was at the top of the Smithsburg scoring list.

Haeun Lee had a disappointing 83 on the par-72 layout, but support came from the boys. Chris Bushey shot a 3-over 75, Brandon Keefer had a season-best 79 and A.J. Minnich came through with a personal-best 80. Even fifth-man Bo Phillips posted an 85.

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"Keefer and Minnich really came of age," said Neff. "Bushey has been Steady Eddie all year. It showed they don't have to rely on (Haeun) always scoring low. I feel real good about our chances at the state."

Lee will make her second visit to the state after finishing second last year, while the remainder of the team will have its first experience.

"I feel great about our team making it," said Bushey.

While Smithsburg and Middletown advanced as teams, Washington County produced four other individual qualifiers, including Williamsport's Zach Weber, who challenged defending champion Alex Hoffman, of Middletown, through 13 holes.

Weber (76), Clear Spring's T.J. Socks (76) and North Hagerstown's Kyle Walters (79) and Becky Gossard (83) made their efforts count. Weber, Socks and Walters will make their first state appearances, Gossard her second.

Weber got off to a fast start with birdies on the first two holes and was fashioning his finest round of the year, standing at 3-under par as he eagled the par-4, 402-yard 13th hole, knocking in a 140-yard pitching wedge.

"I bladed the shot and didn't even see it go in because I hit it bad," said Weber, who got the good news from one of the other competitors in the group. "They said it hit, took one bounce, stopped past the pin and spun back."

That gave him a two-shot advantage over Hoffman, the pair playing in the same foursome.

Soon, though, the walls came crashing down on the Williamsport senior in the medalist race. Weber carded an 8 on No. 14 while Hoffman delivered a clutch eagle 3, a five-shot swing that led Hoffman to medalist honors with a 3-under-par 69.

"I don't think I had any nerves. I just blocked all my shots," said Weber of his journey on the 14th. "I've been playing good of late so I really feel great about qualifying."

Socks, a senior, had a quick response when talking about his best round of the year after posting a 36-40 card.

"This is my best round ever," he said.

Walters might be the most surprising of county players to qualify, but he knew he had the potential.

"Working on the driving range, I had good drives and irons today," said Walters, who shot 38-41. "I knew I had the potential and I got it right."

The 2A/1A portion the the state tournament will be contested Oct. 22-23 at Potomac Ridge Golf Club in Waldorf. The University of Maryland golf course is undergoing extensive renovations this year.

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