Marriotts Ridge wins fifth straight state title
Mustangs’ performance ties record set by Churchill
Marriotts Ridge senior Jackson Courtney stood in the shadow of the University of Maryland golf course clubhouse. He basked in the glow of the program’s fifth straight state championship, and took a moment to reflect on the past four years.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t change a single thing,” he said with a wide smile.
The Mustangs came out Wednesday and broke open a Class 2A-1A team race that had been tight after the opening round by firing a second-day team total of 309 — the lowest of any team in any classification on Day 2 — to post a combined score of 633 and win by 34 shots over second-place Middletown.
The five straight team titles ties a state record set by Churchill from 2002 through 2006.
Courtney, who shot a tournament-best round of even par on the final day, led the charge to the championship by finishing in second place overall with a two-day total of 148 — four shots back of boys individual champion Nick Roberson of Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
“You know we put our hard work into it and we really got out of it what we wanted to,” Courtney said. “To be standing here today saying that we haven’t lost as a team in my four years that we’ve been here and to have five state championships in a row, I wouldn’t have done it any differently. I’m super proud of that, and it’s something that I’ll be able to cherish for the rest of my life.”
Marriotts Ridge coach Mark Dubbs said this title holds special meaning because for this group of seniors — Courtney, Nick Mejia (tied for 13th, 155) and John Szymanski (tied for 22nd, 160) — it put the finishing touches on an undefeated four years.
“The first state title we won [in 2012] will always hold a special place, but this one is a close second because of what they’ve done over these last four years and how this whole group has stayed together the whole time,” Dubbs said. “Nobody knows just how much pressure they put on themselves because none of them wanted to drop the ball. They came into this year with a lot to live up to. But, man, they have answered every challenge, and these last two days were no different.”
While Marriotts Ridge walked away celebrating a team title, Howard junior Jacqueline Cherry saw a potential girls individual championship slip out of her grasp on the third hole of a playoff against Churchill’s Lena Capoccia.
The two tied through 36 holes with totals of 151 and matched pars on the first two sudden-death playoff holes. But on the third extra hole, the par-3 No. 11, Capoccia came through with the shot of the tournament.
She nearly holed her second shot from the greenside bunker to set up another par that ultimately clinched the victory.
Cherry, who had hit the green with her tee shot, three-putted for a bogey and finished in second place. Although disappointed, she managed to keep things in perspective.
“Well, I’m really happy because my first year at states as a freshman I didn’t make it to the second day and then last year I got fifth. And so this year it’s crazy that I was in contention for first place and I never imagined that could happen,” she said. “It was my first time playing in a playoff and I was really nervous.”
For Capoccia it was a breakthrough week of her own, as she had finished runner-up last season to Delaney Shah of Wootton.
Centennial’s Isabel Trojillo, the only other girl from Howard County to make the final round, finished 12th with a total of 173.
For the boys, Marriotts Ridge stole the local headlines.
Courtney fell a few shots short of his ultimate goal of winning a state championship, but he did rebound from an opening-round 77 (6 over par) to shoot the lowest round in the field on Day 2. He had 14 pars, two bogeys and two birdies for a 71.
It was the final birdie, though, on his final hole, that was particularly meaningful.
“It was really nice to close out on a good note, especially [birdieing] my last hole. I can say my last hole of my senior year and last hole of my high school career, I made birdie on it,” Courtney said. “It feels awesome to play well and to place well and I’m sure I’ll be able to look back on it and be proud of it.”
River Hill’s Derek Gold was the county’s only boy not from Marriotts Ridge to finish in the top 20.