COLLEGE PARK, Md. — All North Hagerstown’s Aaron Staley was asking for was to be in contention after the first round of the Maryland Public Schools state golf championship.
On Monday, the junior made his third visit to the University of Maryland Golf Course his best, shooting a strong 1-over-par 72 as golfers from 3A/4A schools battled for qualifying spots in Wednesday’s final round.
“I was going to be aggressive from the start (Monday) and I’ll come out (Wednesday) and try to be even more aggressive,” said Staley.
While Staley might have been a king with his score, Linganore’s Ryan Cole and North Point’s Marcus Boyd were the aces as each posted 2-under-par 69s over the 6,369-yard, par-71 layout.
Today, golfers from 1A/2A move into the spotlight. Following the cuts, the field competing for the medalist championship will be determined.
Staley carded a 36-36 in a round which included four birdies and five bogeys. He notched two of the birdies near the end of his round to enhance a sweet feeling coming off the course.
He opened play on No. 11 in the shotgun format and birdied the par-5, 514-yard 13th after a two-putt from 60 feet. But two bogeys followed on the 14 and 15 and another followed at the turn on the 412-yard par-4 No. 1, when he missed his par.
Staley scored a birdie on the par-4, 316-yard No. 3 by placing a 120-yard attempt with a gap wedge to within one foot of the cup. He gave it back, though, and fell back to 3-over with four holes remaining with consecutive bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6.
“I still wanted to be aggressive after those bogeys because I knew there were three holes left that I could birdie,” said Staley.
He got two of them.
On the 111-yard par 3 No. 8, he sank a 10-foot putt to pick up a shot. Then, after missing a six-foot birdie putt on the par-5 No. 9, Staley finished his day on a positive note with a birdie on the 372-yard 10th.
After driving his ball into the rough, he strapped a gap wedge from 120 yards to within five feet for birdie to finish 1-over.
“I’m happy with the finish.” Staley said. “I played so much better than last year. The greens weren’t the greatest but they were better than before.”
Staley hit 11 of 14 fairways and had it not been for a pair of three-putt greens, he might have posted a lower score.
“It’s my best competitive round this year, considering the magnitude,” he said.
Tuesday, Smithsburg’s Kyle Huntzberry, Christian Grosh and Shane Fritts will compete on the 1A/2A level, looking for spots in Wednesday’s finale.