(Nov. 8, 2019) Three Stephen Decatur golfers competed in the 2A/1A state championship on the University of Maryland - College Park golf course.
Senior captain Brady Leonard, junior Katelyn Davis and sophomore Abby Wesche advanced to the state tournament because of their performances during the Oct. 15 District VIII championship.
The three Decatur golfers played with other 2A/1A school representatives in the first round last Tuesday.
Leonard shot a 75 to qualify for the final round. Wesche scored a 97 and Davis tallied a 103 and did not advance.
The 3A/4A schools were originally scheduled to compete on Monday, Oct. 28, but because of heavy rains the days prior, their round was postponed to Wednesday, Oct. 30.
The final round for all schools was supposed to be played on Thursday, Oct. 31, but it was moved to Monday, Nov. 4.
“I was impressed with my first round, but disappointed with my second round,” Leonard said. “The second day I just couldn’t keep my driver in the fairway and just got myself in trouble off the tee and that just led to big numbers.
“I’m just glad that I had one good round,” he continued. “It was a fun time. Best way to end the year, going to states.”
It was Leonard’s third time competing in the state tournament.
“I think it capped off four great years here,” Decatur Coach Dan Stearman said. “Last year he made it to states, but he didn’t make it to the second day. To make it to the second day, that’s huge.”
For the girls, Stearman said the experience they gained competing at such a big event for the first time was invaluable.
“I think they were overwhelmed by the event. I think the experience was more important than the actual scoring and that’s what I was really looking for,” Stearman said. “If they shot a great number that would have been a plus.”
Both girls admitted they were nervous and thought they could have performed better, although they did enjoy the experience.
“I didn’t do as well as I would have liked to, but I can improve,” Davis said. “It was a different type of tournament than I ever played before, so it was honestly nerve-racking.
“My nerves got the best of me. The amount of waiting we had to do and the pressure of college scouts watching, just everything involved,” she continued. “I enjoyed it, but I want to do better next year.”
Wesche agreed. The long wait time on holes was difficult as the Decatur players are used to playing at a faster pace.
“It was definitely nerve-racking, but it was a fun experience. I wish I just did better,” she said.
Stearman said the season overall was very successful.
The squad went undefeated, 11-0, during the regular season. The Seahawks came in second place in the Bayside Conference championship and in the District VIII tournament.
“It’s hard to go undefeated in any sport and to go undefeated in this sport, especially when the margins are so close … is quite an accomplishment,” Stearman said. “The kids performed outstanding all year long. They’re a great group of kids. They hung together, they supported each other and I think that’s what propelled us during the regular season.”
Stearman, who took over as head varsity coach last year after two seasons leading the JV program, said it has been exciting to see the players develop.
Several players earned awards for their performance this season.
Leonard finished No. 1 in the Bayside South, with a 41.31 average. He was second overall in the conference. He received First-Team All-Conference accolades and was named Player of the Year in the Bayside South.
“That’s always nice, but I could have done a little better,” he said.
Leonard said his four-year career was “fun-packed and exciting.”
“I’ll miss it for sure. I had a great year and [going to states] was a good ending to the year,” he said.
“Statically, he had a good year, but I know from his perspective there was a lot of opportunities that he left out there he’d like to have back,” Stearman said. “He had a great four years here. Each year got better and better.”
Wesche finished third overall in the conference, with a 45.25 average. She scored a spot on the First Team and was the No. 1 female golfer in the entire Bayside Conference - both south and north.
“I wasn’t expecting it because I didn’t know how the other girls in the Bayside North did,” she said. “It’s kind of cool. It is a big accomplishment. Overall, it was a good season for my first year on varsity. It was a really fun season.”
Next year, she hopes to lower her average and medal at more matches.
Davis received Second Team honors. She was eighth overall in the Bayside South, with a 47.33 average.
“I could have done better this season, but I’ve improved,” she said. “My goal next year is to consistently bring my scores down and hopefully bring home more medals.”
Stearman presented Leonard with the team MVP Award. Wesche earned the Rookie of the Year Award. The Newcomer Award went to Davis.
Senior co-captain Blake Marshall ended the season fourth overall in the Bayside South, with a 45.38 average. He scored a spot on the First Team.
Stearman presented him with the Coaches Award. The third senior on the team, Matt Brown, received the Most Improved Award, for his first season on varsity.
Sophomore Jacob Bauer finished fifth overall in the conference, with a 46 average. He earned First Team accolades.
Although he will graduate his two captains and Brown, Stearman thinks the team will be strong next year.
“Abby and Katelyn gives us a good base to start with, and Jacob Bauer, a sophomore this year, and two years on varsity, I’m looking for good things from him,” Stearman said. “To know what’s coming back next year, with some incoming freshmen and what we had on JV, I think we’re going to have another successful year.”