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Leopards set sights on state title spot

October 20, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

Seven Washington County prep golfers will take a road trip today that they hope will be a two-day excursion.

The Smithsburg team, along with individuals Zach Weber of Williamsport and Aaron Staley and Becky Gossard of North Hagerstown, will converge on Potomac Ridge Golf Club in Waldorf, Md., today for the Maryland Class 2A/1A state championship.

Smithsburg will have Chris Bushey, A.J. Minnich, Matt Snowden and Kyle Huntzberry competing in the team competition. The Leopards qualified in second place out of the District 1 tournament behind Middletown, which is led by 2007 individual state champion Alex Hoffman.

Smithsburg had its five-year MVAL Antietam Conference reign end with a second-place finish to North Hagerstown in horrible weather conditions at Black Rock last Friday.

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"You forget about it," said Smithsburg coach Dan Neff of the Leopards' 346-stroke team total in the league tournament. "You certainly don't like to finish second. We talked about it afterward and how important it is for all four players to be at the top of their game."

Bushey, making a return visit to Potomac Ridge after an eighth-place finish last year, also is a top threat for the individual race.

"My goal is to break 150 and I think that will contend to win," said Bushey, who shot a 6-under 66 for medalist honors at the district tournament. "Alex will be tough. Potomac Ridge is a course that requires a lot of 3-woods and hybrids off the tee. It will be critical to hit the landing areas."

The Leopards, who last won the team title in 2005, will battle Middletown, McDonough, Marriotts Ridge and Liberty this year.

"As a team we can't continue to rely on Chris to carry us," said Neff. "A.J. has had a solid year, but we need more from the bottom."

Weber also returns for a second state trip and looks for vast improvement over his two-day 175 from last year.

"I'm taking it hole-by-hole and trying to not lose focus," said Weber. "My goal is to shoot in the 70s each day."

Gossard makes her third state trip, having shot a 187 over two days at Potomac Ridge last year.

Staley, a freshman, is excited about his first state experience.

"My goal is to make the cut the first day and finish in the top 20," said Staley.

Potomac Ridge will play to par 73. Boys yardage will be in the 6,300-yard range, with the girls playing around 5,800 yards.

Bart George, of Broadneck, shot an opening-round 74 to lead 32 boys qualifiers on Monday in the Class 4A/3A half of the tournament.

Diana Brown, of Churchill and McKenzie Cutter, of North Point each shot 78 to lead nine girls qualifiers.

The cut line for boys was at 86 and at girls was 92.

The 3A/4A qualifiers will return on Wednesday with Monday's qualifiers return on Wednesday to vie for individual and team titles with those who advance from today's 2A/1A first round. They will play to crown one individual boy and girl medalist along with team champions in each of the two combined classifications.

n Saturday's cancellation of the PIAA District 3 tournament gave both Waynesboro's Liz Breed and Chambersburg's Mallory Cortis a spot in today's Eastern Regional, a one-day, 18-hole qualifier at Golden Oaks Golf club in Fleetwood, Pa., and the final stop before the PIAA State Championship.

Breed shot an 81 and Cortis an 82 in the first round and already were in good position to qualify. It is Breed's second District 3 title.

Victims of the weather were Chambersburg's Nick Stonesifer and James Buchanan's London Hollenshead. Stonesifer shot 84 and Hollenshead 83 in their first rounds and needed a second round to be played in an effort to get inside the 20-player qualifying limit.

The state tournament will be played at Heritage Hills Country Club in York, Pa., on Oct. 26-27.

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