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Everyone taking aim at Antietam championship

Washington County golf preview

Washington County golf preview

August 20, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

The prep golf season in Washington County teed off for some this week, while others have their first tee time early next week.

The strangest sight? Smithsburg without a female golfer on its roster for the first time in what seems like ages.

After many years of the Grier sisters followed by the emergence of Haeun Lee as the 2008 Maryland Class 1A-2A state champion, coach Dan Neff has an all-male revue this year.

"It's the first time we haven't had a female, but we'll be just fine," said Neff. "It's tough to lose a caliber player like Lee, but life goes on."

Lee's graduation didn't leave the cupboard bare for Smithsburg.

The Leopards have talented senior Chris Bushey returning, along with experience provided by senior A.J. Minnich.

"We're deeper this year," said Neff. "(Bushey) had a great summer of golf and we're waiting for A.J. He's getting better."

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All county public schools are back together in the Antietam Conference, so Smithsburg should get a race from several of its "old" counterparts" along with the return of North Hagerstown.

In addition, St. Maria Goretti likes its chances in the Apple Valley League and Saint James is looking ahead to a good year in the Mid-Atlantic Conference.

With the exception of a youthful South Hagerstown squad, the other Washington County schools expect to be at or near the top of the Antietam chase.

Leading players returning this year include Zach Weber at Williamsport, Becky Gossard and Conner Spessard at North Hagerstown, Tyler Thompson at Boonsboro and Brian Lesher at Clear Spring.

"We've got a strong nucleus for the year and another two that will round us out strongly at the bottom," said North coach Joel Rice.

Boonsboro
The Warriors return All-County senior Thompson, and coach Greg Henry is looking for a breakout year from him and players like seniors Troy Hartle and Jeremy Hardy.

"Tyler could have a breakout year," said Henry. "He's an All-County (golfer) and the other kids are working hard. I've probably got more depth than ever this year."

Broadfording
The Christiansen brothers -- Peter, Dan and Matthew -- will be the primary scoring sources for the Lions.

"We're still young but we'll be more competitive and look to win two or three matches," said coach John Pryor.

Clear Spring
The Blazers lost some players to graduation, but coach Darren Smith isn't crying the blues. He has senior Lesher and junior Tyler Brown back with experience.

"I'm super excited about the season," said Smith. "I don't expect 30s and low 40s every time, but we've got potential and I expect mid 40s."

North Hagerstown
Backing up Gossard and Spessard will be talented freshman Aaron Staley. The Hubs also have some experience with sophomores Jason Moody and Zach Webb.

Rice also is looking for contributions from senior Greg Harrison, who has knocked it around at Fountain Head and has promise.

Saint James
Saints coach Karl Yergey has a big hole to replace with the graduation of All-County player Jamie Phillips, so he'll look to sophomore Alex Beckel and newcomer Tucker Oelson to lead the way. Beckel was the No. 2 player for the Saints last year and Oelson is a transfer from Texas.

"We lost a star in Phillips, but we may have a nice replacement (Oelson) for him," said Yergey.

Smithsburg
Neff will have choices among six other players to put on the course, all with summer playing experience.

Seniors Bobby Gery and Micah Metcalf return along with junior Matt Snowden and sophomores Shane Fritts and Logan McSherry. They join promising freshman Kyle Huntzberry.

South Hagerstown
First-year coach Matt Poling welcomed a group of six players. His top four are likely to all be sophomores, including Luke Shindle and Isaac O'Brien, each of whom played extensive junior golf this summer.

"It'll be a down year but it's good to come into a struggling situation with good young players to work with and improve," said Poling. "That's the encouraging aspect."

St. Maria Goretti
The Gaels have five returning players with experience, including seniors Dan Rost and Emily Steiner. Goretti also has Christian Grosh and J.R. Everett in the lineup. Steiner was an All-County selection last year.

"We've had great improvement because the players have played more this summer," said Gaels coach Bill Hoffman. "I'm excited about the year and we should contend in the AVL."

Williamsport
Leading the way for the Wildcats will be Weber, a senior who made it to the state tournament a year ago along with Bushey. Williamsport has two other seniors -- Chris Karr and Adam Eichelberger -- to go along with six underclassmen.

"Weber's game has improved and we've got other players that can be very competitive," said coach Darrell Eichelberger.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chris Bushey, Senior, Smithsburg
Dominating player during summer junior golf. Averaged 39 for 9 holes last year and finished 8th in Maryland boys state medalist standings. All-County last year.

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