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Golf Season Already Under Way

O’Connell returns Ceconi, Malanchuck and Gerrere.

With spring’s arrival, Washington area private high schools have teed up the 2008 golf season. Of those schools fielding spring golf teams, most participate in one of two regional leagues—the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) and the Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC).

An informal coaches’ poll suggests last year’s strongest teams will continue their top-level play this spring. In the WCAC, the favorites include Gonzaga, DeMatha, and Paul VI, while Landon will challenge defending champion Georgetown Prep in the IAC.

Among individual players, DeMatha’s Joey Rice and Prep’s Wes Strang will build on great 2007 records, and Gonzaga’s top three seniors—Ryan McCarthy, Jay Mulieri, and Phil Doyle—can match up with anyone. Several freshmen with impressive junior golf experience will contribute, especially DeMatha’s Ben Warnquist, and Prep’s Denny McCarthy, Ryan’s younger brother.

<b>IN THE WCAC</b>, Gonzaga has won the last three WCAC championships as well as two straight Washington private school golf championships. Head coach Ron Theriaque likes his team’s prospects this year: “We lost only one of our top six players. I think we’re ready to defend our title.”

McCarthy won the WCAC individual championship last year and tied for second at the 2007 Dewey Ricketts Memorial, a top Washington area junior tournament. In 2006, Mulieri won the Metro and the prestigious Bobby Gorin junior event. Doyle won last year’s Metro medal.

At Bishop O’Connell, the Knights return their top three players—Chris Ceconi, John Malanchuck, and Nick Gerrere. O’Connell opened the season with a narrow 5-4 win in a dual match against St. John’s on March 18. The team’s next schedule match, a day later against IAC foe Landon was cancelled.

The Knights return from Spring Break with a dual match against Bishop Ireton on March 31.

At Ireton, coach Charlie Hall hopes for a “middle-of-the-pack” finish with Phil Goldblatt, Brian Barnwell, and Steven Potter leading the team.

Meanwhile, Good Counsel lost four seniors from last year, but All-Met Ryan Moran returns. Coach Frank Mantua expects a solid year from George Bushby.

The Springfield Golf & Country Club hosts the WCAC tournament, with the first round on April 29, and the second round on May 6.

<b>IN THE IAC</b>, Whit Morgan’s Episcopal team will be led by Upton Stover, Carter Voss and Stefan Graff. As a junior, Stover led the Maroon with a team-low 79 in the IAC championship. The three-sport star’s eight-over placed him 14th individually, while Episcopal finished fourth behind Georgetown Prep, Landon and rival St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes.

The Saints lost four seniors from last year. Two returning starters, Joe Curley and Holt Mountcastle, will lead the team.

IAC favorite Georgetown Prep touts sophomore Wes Strang, who was the 2007 Maryland junior golfer of the year. Also, he won the 14-15 age division in the Rickets and Gorin junior tournaments last season and finished second in the Frank Emmet Schoolboy. Seniors Jimmy Vollmer (tied for second in 2007 Ricketts) and Justin Nogay should provide depth. McCarthy, only a freshman, won the 14-15 bracket in the 2007 Bob Riley Junior and qualified for the 2007 U.S. Junior.

Landon, who won 13 IAC championships from 1990–2006, hopes All-Met and 2007 Gorin finalist Ersin Levent will help the team regain the trophy. Others adding depth include Michael Dimeglio and two freshmen—Teddy Tollin and Robert Balaban. Both played on the Plantations Junior Golf Tour during this past fall and winter. Balaban won once and had four top tens, and Tollin, five top tens. “Prep has the best team,” said Coach Jack Duquette, “but we can surprise some people.”

At Bullis, All-Met Nick Sorkin returns, but coach Glenn Schwitter said the rest of the team needs experience. St. Albans coach Bob Andreoli looks to contend this year: “If everyone plays to their potential, we can hang in there with any team.” His best players are Glory Roper, Ken Jee, and Lawrence O’Brien.

The IAC championship is on April 29 at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal, Va.