COLLEGE PARK — On the first day of tryouts in early August, Urbana golf coach Frank Ferrari surveyed his team, trying to discern some kind of identity.
Only six golfers start in nine-hole matches and only four count toward the team score in the state tournament. Ferrari noticed eight or nine players worthy of starting, all varying in skillset, grade and gender. There was the stalwart senior, the right mixture of experienced upperclassmen shooting in the 70s and three freshmen who injected promise.
Competition and Ferrari’s leadership and a one-day-at-a-time mantra set the course, and the fruits of something special blossomed. They won matches in landslide fashion, then rolled to the county championship, Central Maryland Conference championship and district championship. Finally, on Wednesday, Ferrari’s Hawks finished at the mountaintop.
After posting the lowest team score in the semifinals on Monday, Urbana pulled away from Northern and defending state champion Walt Whitman on Wednesday to claim the fourth Class 3A/4A state title in program history at the University of Maryland golf course in College Park.
The Hawks shot 306 on Monday and led Whitman, of Montgomery County, by 10 heading into Wednesday. They backed that up with a 313 in the final round for a two-day total of 619, 18 strokes better than Northern and 20 better than Whitman. It’s Urbana’s first golf title since 2011, the back end of a third straight championship.
This one, though, has a little more meaning. Ferrari’s son, Jacob, powered the Hawks with a 75-77-152 and finished fourth in Class 3A/4A. Freshmen Bach Ngo (72-83-155) and Michael Snyder (81-74-155) tied for seventh in Class 4A/3A and posted two of the lowest 18-hole rounds of the tournament. Elliot Haas (78-79-157), who wasn’t even playing golf four years ago, ends his run with “the best coach in the state” as a champion.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” the elder Ferrari said. “When we last won [the title] in 2011, those guys were special. … But this team is steady. I always know if you’re steady – you don’t need 65s, you need four 78s, and that typically wins. We’ve always had the 74, 75, 76.”
“It’s really special,” Jacob Ferrari added. “I came up as a kid and watched him win back-to-back years, and I also watched him lose. I’ve been here before, losing. It’s good to win. It’s fun to enjoy.”
Fittingly enough, Ferrari’s early-season assessment aligned with his team’s rise to prominence. In every 18-hole match, someone new shined. In the county championship at Clustered Spires, Jacob Ferrari shot 3-under 69 for the individual title. Haas’ 4-under 67 at Maryland National won him the CMC championship, and during this wild, windy, demanding state tournament, Ngo and Snyder came through with a 72 and 74 on the first and second day, respectively.
Ngo started the final round two back of eventual 3A/4A individual boys champion Eddie Coffren, of Northern, but a detrimental amount of putts (44) Wednesday doomed his chances. Ferrari, on the other hand, played steady both days despite making just one birdie. Snyder, while posting his team’s lowest score of the day, started four-over through five but righted the ship with a 20-footer for birdie on the 165-yard, par-3 11th to finish his last 13 holes one-under.
Haas carded two birdies in the final round but took two double bogeys and six bogeys. Usually, mistakes like those cost a team a shot at the title. But nearly everyone who advanced to Wednesday’s finals — even the state’s best — struggled in 40 degree conditions and gusts of 20 miles per hour.
“I had to steady myself,” Haas said. “Draw myself in and take it one shot at a time. The weather was brutal.”
And like every player and coach in the state tournament, numbers and positioning always hang in the balance, even with a comfy first-round lead. There are no leaderboards on the course and coaches aren’t allowed to coach since each one is assigned a group to score.
“We had no idea [what was going on],” Haas said. “We really had no idea.”
“It’s so hard watching from afar, because you’re [scoring] someone else. You keep thinking, ‘Is that putt for par? Is that for birdie? Is that for bogey? Where was he? How’d he miss that putt?’” the elder Ferrari said. “Then, you’re trying to do the math.”
In the end, the math was simple. The Hawks had won, and for the fourth time in four 18-hole rounds, somebody new carried the load. Once all the scores came in, penned on sheets of paper affixed to a wall outside the clubhouse, Ferrari and his team stood on the putting green, recollecting how this moment came to be and how they left no doubt.
“I don’t have words,” an emotional Ferrari said. “[Elliot] works so hard. For him to get a state championship his senior year, that is hard to come by. For two freshmen to win [a title], that is hard to come by. And then to have my own son [win a title], are you kidding me? It can’t get any better.”
NOTES: Oakdale finished third in the Class 1A/2A race (688 two-day total). The Bears were led by Chris Lee, whose 76-79-155 placed him fourth in his class. Oakdale’s Elizabeth Tucci was runner-up in the individual girls Class 1A/2A standings with an 82-84-166. ...
Marriotts Ridge of Howard County won its seventh straight Class 1A/2A title with a two-day total of 628 and River Hill, also from Howard County, finished second with a 655. ...
In Class 3A/4A, Linganore’s Ryan McFadden placed ninth with an 80-76-156, and Jacob Gibson from Thomas Johnson shot 80-84-164 to tie for 22nd. In Class 1A/2A, Oakdale’s Joe Lesage came in 14th with an 83-85-168, while Middletown’s Joey Weiland placed 18th with an 83-88-171.