HAGERSTOWN — Middletown’s Jake Darr burst onto the local prep golf scene two years ago as a freshmen, winning the District I 2A-1A championship.
He didn’t play as well last year yet was good enough to win another district championship. Darr then fell out of contention at the state tournament.
That was unacceptable for him. So Darr matured in the offseason and bettered his game.
On Tuesday, the reinvented Darr took command of his game early, then went on to win his third straight district championship, carding a 66 at Black Rock Golf Course.
“I kind of hit a sophomore slump last year,” Darr said. “I just laid back, slacked off. I didn’t try. I had trouble having motivation.”
His 66 helped spur the Knights to a second-place finish in the team competition with a 316. South Carroll won the team title at 314.
Both the Knights and Cavaliers qualified their respective teams for the state tournament next month at the
University of Maryland’s golf course in College Park.
Darr’s return to his old form wasn’t hard. It was just a matter of remembering what he had learned as a freshman — just keep pushing himself the entire round.
“I slacked off on everything last year,” Darr said. “Every part of my game suffered.”
His round on Tuesday featured a pair of eagles. Right away, Darr eagled the first hole, then eagled No. 16.
“Both were short putts,” Darr said. “My first eagle was a 15-footer off the fringe.”
Darr’s eagle on No. 16 was a 10-footer. He had three birdies and two bogeys as part of his round.
“The sharpest of my game today was hitting the fairways off the tee,” Darr said. “That’s the best part of my game.”
Darr was four shots better than South Carroll’s C.J. Smith, who shot a 70. Catoctin’s Garrett Ridenour was third at 72, qualifying for the state tournament as an individual.
Other individual qualifiers to the state tournament from Tuesday include Brunswick’s John Reedy, who tied for fifth at 76; and Walkersville’s Mario Miller, who tied for eighth at 78.
On the girls’ side, Catoctin’s Taylor Zentz also qualified for states, shooting a 90. She made the girls’ cut by one shot.
Other scorers for the Knights include Andrew Heon (80), Nick DeSimone (83) and Jack Littrell (87).
Middletown qualifying its entire team for the state tournament was a great welcoming present for first-year coach Ethan Lester.
“This is a good group of listeners,” he said. “They’re willing to learn, develop as a team.”
The Knights’ success as a team on Tuesday was based on a simple philosophy — steady, consistent play.
“I told them this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Lester said. “Just take it easy, don’t rush the shots.”
Oakdale, the other county team in Tuesday’s tournament, was led by Matthew Holman, who shot 85.