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Commonwealth District Golf: Riverbend takes title
EVEN WHEN NOT AT BEST, BEARS ROLL
BY JUSTIN RICE
To hear Riverbend’s golf coach and players tell it, one might think the Bears had a bad day.
“We’re going to regroup as a team and play well at [the Northwest Region tournament],” said junior Michael Mead, who needed 37 putts to card a 78 on Monday in the Commonwealth District tournament at Fawn Lake Country Club.
“We didn’t play that great,” said coach Josh Johnson, who saw his team’s top four finishers total a 313. “We’ve shot below that five times in 18-hole rounds for the year, and we’ve been playing really well lately.”
But with a lineup as deep as Riverbend’s, “not that great” was more than enough.
The Bears topped runner-up Albemarle (316) to clinch the school’s first Commonwealth District golf tournament title. Junior Devon Oeters led the way with a 74, finishing one shot behind Albemarle’s Michael Shick, the individual medalist.
The Bears and Patriots advance to next Monday’s Northwest Region tournament at Prince William Golf Course, where Riverbend will hope to play better and accomplish even bigger goals. The Commonwealth’s six other top individuals also advanced.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the state, but we’ve got to take it one step at a time,” Mead said. “We’ve got to win the region first, and then see where it goes.”
The Bears’ depth proved out. Mead’s “bad day”—he struggled with his putter on greens that had been aerated a week before—still ended with a 78 to place in the top six. Andrew Mueller had a 79 and Sameer Abdel–Qader an 82.
Riverbend’s Megan Frederick (83) and Adel Hasan (84) didn’t count for the Bears’ team score, but even they would have finished in the top four for any of the district’s eight other teams.
“It’s pretty strong when you have your sixth player who can shoot in the 70s,” Oeters said. “That’s state material. If we’re having a bad day, we can count on our No. 6. That’s what makes a great team.”
Oeters got off to a slow start. He had a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 1 that he turned into a bad three-putt bogey. He missed a 3-footer for par on No. 2 and dropped another stroke. And on No. 5, he had to hack the ball out of long rough and ended with a double bogey.
But it all turned around there.
He didn’t make another bogey the rest of the day, and added birdies on Nos. 9 and 13 to finish one shot out of first place.
“I knew that I had to turn it around,” he said. “I’ve experienced shooting bad in districts before; it wasn’t going to be the same this year.”
Practically the entire Riverbend team knows what it means to play badly at the district tournament. With what Johnson thought was a strong lineup, the Bears stumbled to the finish in 2011—“there’s no other word but ‘choked,’” he said.
“I just think maturity has really gotten the team where we want to be this year.”
Mead, the nominal No. 1 on a roster full of players who have a claim to the top spot, was so close to a solid round Monday.
He hit his first shot of the day out of bounds and was two-over after one hole. He reached the first two par-5’s in two shots, birding No. 3 but settling for a three-putt par on No. 6.
If any one shot summed up Mead’s day, it was his long birdie try on the par-5 16th that hit the cup and bounced out. But even when the putts weren’t falling, he knew he had his teammates to fall back on.
“We’re blessed to have such a great group of players coming to our school,” Mead said. “It makes it competitive within the team, and that’s a good thing to have. It makes us all better.”
Top six individuals: 1. Michael Shick (A) 73; 2. Devon Oeters (Rb) 74; t–3. Will Schossow (MV) 77; t–3. Alex Simmons (A) 77; t–3. Jared McGhee (O) 77; 6. Michael Mead Jr. (Rb) 78.
Also advancing to regionals: Tanner Ott (MV) 79; Ian Chamberlain (NS) 80; Cole Migliorini (CF) 80; Matt Turner (St) 83 (won playoff against North Stafford’s Taylor Byrd).
1. Riverbend (313): Oeters 74, Mead 78, Andrew Mueller 79, Sameer Abdel–Qader 82.
2. Albemarle (316): Shick 73, Simmons 77, Austin Yoon 79, Caleb Martin and Jeremy Johnston 87.
3. Mountain View (341): Schossow 77, Ott 79, Dillon Pierson 92, Aaron Bezio 93.
4. Colonial Forge (351): Migliorini 80, Aaron Keeton 88, Sawyer Chaffin 89, Harrison Hallet 94.
5. Brooke Point (357): Andrew Thornton 84, Shannon Ciccarello 91, Colin Knight 91, Ryan Smith 91.
t–6. North Stafford (359): Chamberlain 80, Byrd 83, Brandon Sawh 98, Patrick Edwards 98.
t–6. Stafford (359): Turner 83, Colby D’Lugos 89, Jacoby Smith 92, Bradley Harrison 95.
8. Orange (367): McGhee 77, Jake Eheart 85, Jacob Haney 95, Ryan Dodson 110.
9. Massaponax (379): Daniel Sylvia 86, Morgan Uhlick 91, Maria Sylvia 97, Blake Sullivan 105.
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045