In his fourth season as Broadneck golf coach, Devin Gardner led the Bruins to a 30-4 record, good enough to win the Anne Arundel County A Division regular season title this fall. But during the Anne Arundel County golf championships on October 2 at the Eisenhower Golf Course in Crownsville, all he could do was wait. His team was locked in a tight contest with Crofton.
It wasn’t an unfamiliar position for the Cardinals from Crofton, who had won the county championship the last two seasons, edging out Severna Park by a single stroke in 2021 and defeating Broadneck by five strokes in 2022. Led by junior Owen Newberry, Crofton had been going shot for shot with the Bruins all morning, desperately trying to extend their two-year reign as county champions. Newberry would ultimately take home the boys individual championship, finishing with 72 strokes on the day.
In the end, after a remarkable team performance, and a girls individual county championship courtesy of Summer Stroop, Gardner’s Broadneck squad took home the gold. Broadneck finished with 319 strokes as a team, with Crofton settling for second at 322 strokes. It was Gardner’s first county championship as the Broadneck coach and the school’s first county championship in golf since 2015.
“I think our leadership was a key differentiator this year,” Gardner said. “The captains and seniors on this team have set the bar for what a Broadneck golfer should look like. This, I believe, led to the younger players on the team trying to work harder to become better players.”
Pete Buck’s Severna Park Falcons finished third at the Eisenhower course, checking in with a team total of 338 strokes. At the conclusion of the match, Severna Park was also named the regular season champion of the girls division, capturing the award with an 18-0 record.
It was an impressive performance, although one that resulted in less hardware than the Falcons’ 2022 season, which saw David Regala and Nicol Chovanec win the individual county championships. Chovanec was forced to settle for second this time, losing a back-and-forth affair with Stroop that ended with a one-shot difference on the final playoff hole.
Both teams were back in action on October 10 for the District V championships at Crofton Country Club. Broadneck hoped to keep their positive momentum rolling, with a win at districts possibly setting the stage for a potential first state title on October 23 at the University of Maryland. As for Severna Park, they wanted to qualify for a chance to win their first state championship, as well as an opportunity to best their rivals.
Despite top 10 individual finishes from James Smack, Ben Coe and Stroop, Broadneck finished below Severna Park at the district championships, with the Falcons accruing 343 strokes as a team, finishing fifth and qualifying for the state championship.
Chovanec was the only member of the Falcons to finish in the top 10, tying for fourth with 77 strokes. As a team, Broadneck failed to meet the 350-stroke threshold necessary to qualify, although several of Broadneck’s golfers met the threshold to qualify for the individual state championships.
On October 23, the Falcons brought a four-man team to the University of Maryland, with the group consisting of Brett Layne, Nick Priest, Nicol Chovanec and Noah Fernandez. Lily Wells also qualified individually, rounding out the five golfers on Severna Park’s squad for the state semifinals.
By October 25, Chovanec was the only one of the five left standing, managing to qualify for the finals and finishing 26th among girls in the division.
It was a learning experience for the team, which finished 15th overall in their division, but an undeterred Buck remained confident in the team’s ability to make it back to states next year.
“My most significant takeaway is that we should qualify as a team again next year, which would be eight times in nine years if that happens,” Buck stated. “Nicol, Lily and Nick all return, and playing at states gives them valuable experience for them to build on next year.”
As for Gardner’s Bruins, three golfers qualified for the state championships individually, with Summer Stroop finishing tied for 18th among girls in her division, Ben Coe finishing tied for 26th among boys in his division, and James Smack finishing tied for 33rd.
When asked to describe the Bruins’ season, the coach succinctly summarized it with a single adjective: spectacular.
“We accomplished a lot of feats this season,” Gardner said. “All season long, Broadneck golf showed excellence, and I am proud of the players this season.”
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