(Oct. 22, 2021) Five Stephen Decatur golfers will compete in the state tournament next week at University of Maryland - College Park.
They earned a spot in the championship because of their performance during the District VIII tournament last Wednesday at Hyatt River Marsh in Cambridge. Decatur came in second place, two strokes behind Kent Island, 330-328.
The team score advanced the Decatur foursome – sophomores Kole Kohut (80) and Evan Oglesby (82), senior captain Jacob Bauer (83) and freshman Sam Boger (85) – to states. Senior captain Abby Wesche shot a 91 during the district event, which qualified her as an individual for states.
“It’s probably as good a group as I’ve had since the first year I was the varsity coach [five years ago] and that was a very strong group back then. This might be even a little stronger group just because of the mixture of veteran players and young players,” said Decatur Coach Dan Stearman. “The two veterans, Abby and Jacob, have played for four years so they give us a lot of leadership, but Sam, Kole and Evan are really good players that are getting better each and every week … They’re very consistent.”
Stearman added that there’s something about the group that is very interesting.
“They just seem to not get overwhelmed with the situation, even though it's a pretty big deal – and I think it’s a big deal – but they don’t seem to be fazed by it. They’re very talented and they each have a different strength that makes it good for the group,” he said. “Kole’s very long off the tee, Evan is just a consistent golfer from tee to green, and Sam as a freshman is very long and is learning how to finesse her game even more every time she goes out, so she’s gotten better each week.
“So that’s a big strength for the younger group and the two upperclassmen have been very consistent all year,” Stearman continue. “Abby has played pretty consistent throughout the entire year and Jacob Bauer’s game is actually risen up as the year’s gone on. They’ve pushed Jacob a little bit to probably be the best golfer he’s been the four year’s he’s been on varsity.”
To be successful, Stearman said the Decatur golfers need to play exactly the same way that they’ve played the last two weeks, stay out of trouble, putt very well and not be overwhelmed by the situation.
“If they can shoot the numbers that they’ve shot the last two big events we’ve had they’re going to compete very well on the final day,” he said. “We might not win as a team but it could be the highest we’ve ever placed in terms of a team foursome. If Abby plays the way she’s capable she could push some numbers there too and be in the top 20 as a single, which would be huge.”
Wesche is the only Decatur golfer with experience playing in the state tournament. She was one of three Decatur golfers who advanced to the tournament in 2019, when she was a sophomore. She shot a 97. There was no state event held last year because of covid.
Wesche said she is both excited and nervous to compete.
“I’m excited to go up there and just have the experience to play there again,” she said. “Being there before helps you better understand the course, like club selection. Last time I went I didn’t know if it’s uphill club up, if it’s downhill club down, like those type of things, but now I understand it.”
Wesche said her goal is to shoot in the 80s.
For his first state appearance, Bauer also has a combination of nerves and excitement.
“I want to play to my full potential and I believe that if the whole team plays how I know they can we can achieve great things at the state level,” he said. “My individual goal is to shoot below 80 for 18 [holes], as a team, I really just want everyone to play how I know they can because if we do that then the sky is the limit!”
Bauer said he is very sad that this is his last year competing in high school golf.
“I am, however, looking forward to the future and what it has to offer,” he said.
Boger is going into the tournament with no expectations, since it is her first time competing.
“I’m kind of excited more than nervous because I don’t have too much expectations for myself considering it’s my first year,” she said. “My goal is to shoot somewhere under 100. I know it may seem high, but from the talks of it, it’s a hard course. I’ve played hard courses before … courses that professionals have played at. I’m not really intimidated by the course, I’m more intimidated by the competition.”
Oglesby said his goal is to just have fun in his state tournament debut.
“I don’t have any expectations going into it. It will be fun and a good experience,” he said. “I’d love to put up a good number, but states is the biggest stage of high school ball so just to be there is great and a blessing. I’m just glad to be a part of the team. This team is great. All of us click together very well.”
Kohut said he is more excited than nervous for his state tournament debut.
“I feel pretty confident about our team. My goal is to do my best and hope everyone else on my team does the same,” he said. “I’m always trying to shoot for my best. My best this season is 79 on 18 holes. There’s always a chance shooting that well.”
The 3A/4A classifications schools will play on Monday. Decatur is in the 1A/2A classification and will compete on Tuesday. The top teams and individuals will advance to the final round on Wednesday.