(Oct. 25, 2019) Three Stephen Decatur golfers will compete in the state championship, held Oct. 28-30, on the University of Maryland - College Park golf course.
Senior captain Brady Leonard, junior Katelyn Davis and sophomore Abby Wesche qualified for the state tournament because of their performance in last week’s District VIII championship.
Coach Dan Stearman said their scores have been consistent all year.
“Katelyn started off very rough. It was her very first varsity match. She hadn’t played competitive golf in a long time and she really was overwhelmed in her first match, but ever since then she’s gotten better and better,” Stearman said. “Abby did not play in our first match, but once she got into the mix her scores were consistently in the low 40s. She’s actually the No. 1 female golfer in the Bayside Conference and she’s only a sophomore.
“And Brady’s led us all year. He had some struggles at the end of the year – his scores weren’t were he wanted them to be – but overall he played great all year long,” Stearman continued.
This will be Leonard’s third time participating in the state meet.
Since he has been to the tournament before, he said he knows what to expect and “the vibe when you get there and what goes on, on the course.”
He plans to share his experiences with his teammates and provide tips and pointer, because it will be their first time competing.
Leonard is excited and looking forward to the state meet. His goal is to shoot around 81 or 82 and advance to the second day of competition.
To be successful, Leonard said the key will be to “just never give up [and] always keep your head in it.”
Davis said she is nervous and excited to make her state championship debut.
“This is my first year of actual real competition and especially after two years of not playing at all, it’s really nerve-racking,” she said.
At the beginning of the season she never expected to be playing in the state meet.
“I’ve definitely come down a lot [in scoring] from the first match to now. I’ve really improved on a lot of things. It was definitely a surprise to actually be able to make it,” Davis said.
Her goal is to shoot in the 80s at states and advance to the second day of competition.
“If I can stay out of the sand I should be OK,” she said.
Wesche is also excited to be participating in the state tournament. Just to qualify for states is an accomplishment.
Although she wasn’t nervous earlier this week, she said once she steps on the course that may change.
Wesche never imagined when the season started that she would be playing in the state meet.
“As the season went on I was more confident just because I was getting better,” she said.
She is hoping to shoot around 89 at states and advance to the second day of competition.
To be successful, Wesche said she needs to minimize mistakes. She planned to work on playing out of the sand, chipping and putting prior to the tournament.
The Decatur golfers got in a practice round on the state championship course on Wednesday.
“It’s so much different than what they’re used to,” Stearman said. “There’s a lot of different things that come into play.”
He thought their practice round went well.
“Brady shot 81… and the girls shot 89, which is really good for the first time on the course,” Stearman said. “I think it was a big help for them to play it and hopefully it helps them all on Tuesday.”
The Class 4A/3A schools will compete on Monday and the 2A/1A representatives on Tuesday.
The top 40 percent in each class will advance to the finals on Wednesday.
Decatur is participating in the 2A/1A classification this season. The past several years Decatur was in the 4A/3A class, with the larger schools in the state.
“It reduces the number of golfers that they have to compete against at that level on the first day. In 1A/2A I think there’s only 59 schools as opposed to 3A/4A there’s 109 schools,” Stearman said. “The scores still have to be there, but there’s less people to compete against.
“Some of the better programs are 3A/4A, because there’s a bigger pool [of players] to choose from, but there are some tremendous schools in 1A/2A,” he added. “If they can minimize mistakes, play within themselves and not be overwhelmed by the moment then I think they can make it to the second day.”