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HIGH SCHOOL GOLF: Bear’s best isn’t enough

RICHMOND—A Riverbend golfer had the shot of the day Tuesday at the 6A State Tournament at Meadowbrook Country Club. A Bear also had the best scorecard of the day, and Riverbend’s team score was the second round’s best.

What Riverbend didn’t get was the prize the Bears coveted most: a state championship.

After building a 19-stroke lead with an amazing three-over-par team score Monday, Chantilly captured its first ever team state title. Staked to such a huge margin—by their own good play and by Riverbend’s disappointing effort Monday—the Chargers played well enough Tuesday to cruise to a 14-stroke win, 583 to Riverbend’s 597. South County and Cosby finished third and fourth, respectively.

“As you know, in sports nothing is over until it’s over,” Chantilly coach Kurt Sporkmann said. “Sometimes it’s harder to deal [with a big lead] than when you’re down five. It’s easy to lose focus and get complacent.

“We put everything behind us and just looked forward to our next shot. We put yesterday behind us and said this is a whole new day.”

The Bears did their best to make Chantilly uncomfortable, with junior Sameer Qader’s 69 on Tuesday—the only golfer in the entire tournament to post a round under 70—and one monster swing by senior Michael Mead Jr.

Mead had just birdied the 16th hole on the par 71, 6,596-yard course (golfers started the day on No. 10) and felt like he was building momentum. Mead was playing well. Qader had a good round going. Teammates Jake Miles and Andrew Mueller were also off to promising starts.

“At that point I knew there were 11 holes to play,” Mead said, “and I just had to make something happen. I had to start making birdies.”

He took dead aim with a seven iron from 167 yards on the par 3 17th hole. The ball landed just beyond the pin, spun backwards and rolled into the cup. The roar that erupted from onlookers echoed around the golf course.

“I was thinking I just nuked it,” said Mead, who had his first career hole in one this past summer. “My distance has been off all week, and I finally hit one that was right.

“It may have been lucky, but I don’t really care.”

By word of mouth and text message to text message, Mead’s teammates quickly learned about the ace, and they were buoyed by the prospect of a surge to catch the Chargers.

“For a five-minute span there, it was crazy,” Riverbend coach Josh Johnson said. “There was hope. There was definitely hope. I was doing all the math, trying to see where everyone was at. It was a lot of fun.”

But truly, Riverbend’s hopes depending on Chantilly faltering, and the Chargers didn’t waiver a bit.

Individual medalist Mike Sciorra followed his first-round 70 with a 71 Tuesday and won by one stroke over teammate Juhee Bae (71–71 142). They had been the steadiest in Monday’s opening round, and they were strong again at the finish.

Meanwhile the only Bear who finished great was Qader.

His 69 was the tournament’s best single round, and he placed third in the individual standings. He could have been better, except for the disappointing 78 he carded Monday.

“What killed me was I kept thinking about winning states,” he said. “That was in my mind the whole time: getting that ring.

“Today I just went out and played golf. That’s what I should have done yesterday.”

The Bears did make up strokes on Chantilly Tuesday—five of them, in fact. But the hurdle was just too high; Riverbend started the day just too far back.

“All of us just had a bad day [Monday],” Mueller said. “That’s what it came down to. We were all expecting good things, and we just didn’t play well.

“We got close, but it’s disappointing. We really wanted that state tournament.”

 

Team scores: 1. Chantilly 287–296 584; 2. Riverbend 306–291 597; 3. South County 318–312 630; 4. Cosby 312–320 632.

Riverbend’s individuals: Sameer Qader 78–69 147; Michael Mead Jr. 78–71 149; Jake Miles 75–75 150; Andrew Mueller 77–76 153; Devon Oeters 76–79 155; Josh Kennison

89–93 182.

Top six individuals: Mike Sciorra (Chantilly) 70–71 141; Juhee Bae (Chantilly) 71–71 142; Qader (Rb) 147; Mead (Rb) 149; Connor Messick (Chantilly) 72–77 149; Adam Szwed (Woodbridge) 76–73 149.

 

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

 

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