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Area golfers take aim at state championships

October 20, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

The prep golf season winds up with state tournaments being conducted in Maryland and Pennsylvania this week.

At Heritage Hills in York, Pa., the PIAA tends to its business today and Tuesday. The Maryland championships are held Tuesday through Thursday at Potomac Ridge Golf Club in Waldorf, Md.

Of local interest in Maryland, eyes will be focused on the Class 1A/2A competition on Wednesday and Thursday as Smithsburg looks to bring home at least a team championship.

The Leopards, who last won a team title in 2005, have a top 1-2 punch in juniors Haeun Lee and Chris Bushey, both contenders for medalist honors in the boys and girls divisions.

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"I like our chances as a team because we are loaded up top," said Smithsburg coach Dan Neff. "We're lacking a little experience in the bottom two spots because it's not like you're going out and just playing a little high school match."

Lee finished second last year in girls 1A/2A, and Bushey has been rock solid all season as the pair led the Leopards to a Washington County team championship. A.J. Minnich and Bo Phillips round out Smithsburg's competitive squad.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for these kids," said Neff. "It's like the Honda TV commercial -- the opportunity on the door is knocking. The biggest thing is we have to score well the first day."

Potomac Ridge is a par-73 layout that will play to 6,300 yards for the boys and 5,800 yards for the girls.

"The course has some room on the fairways and is a shotmakers' course," said Neff. "The kids really will need to know the distances to the green by making the right club selection."

Lee is considered one of the favorites to bring back hardware, and it will be her last chance as she will be ineligible to compete next year.

"This is her last trip and she knows it and she wants to go out on top in the worst way," said Neff. "And Chris is one of the most steadiest players from the area. He doesn't get scared. But in the case of each, I think they are more concerned that the team does well."

In addition to the Smithsburg contingent, North Hagerstown will be represented in the medalist races by Kyle Walters and Becky Gossard. Clear Spring sends T.J. Socks and Williamsport has Zach Weber in the fray.

n In Pennsylvania, Waynesboro's Liz Breed makes her third trip to the girls state meet and hopes this one is the charm after a 12th-place finish last year.

Breed had a tough start at the District 3 tournament, when she was 8-over after her first six holes but managed to turn the ship around to qualify for the Eastern Regional with an 82. At the regional, she came through with a 74 for a third-place finish and a spot in the state.

"I was surprised that Liz started off so bad in the district, but she seems to be back," said Waynesboro coach Ryan Henderson. "Her putting has not been her best attribute lately so we've been working on that. If she could have made some more putts, she would have won the regional.

"The state is nothing new to her. Liz just needs to keep it in the 70s, which she can do if she putts well."

Chambersburg sends Kacy Straub to the state meet, and coach Mark Yost knows the junior is capable.

"Kacy showed at the Mid-Penn and the districts that she is capable, and if she's healthy, she can be right there," said Yost.

Straub finished second in District 3 with a two-day 150, then made it through the regional with a 12th-place 81.

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