For Oakton golf coach Frank Autry, a pair of young Cougars picked the right time to play a couple of solid rounds -- last week's Northern Region golf tournament. For Langley's Hunter Albright, the tourney was a chance to right himself. Lee also had a successful tournament, though it took an unusual circumstance for the Lancers to advance to the state playoffs.

Oakton captured the regional at Algonkian Golf Course to gain its fourth straight trip to the state tournament. By finishing second Lee also advanced to the tournament. The four individual golfers with the best scores outside of the Oakton and Lee teams all made the trip to Cypress Point in Virginia Beach this week.

The Cougars' two-day total of 637 outdistanced Lee by nine shots. The margin of victory was a surprise to Autry.

"I was hoping we could squeeze it out," Autry said. "Our whole tournament hinged on getting a good fourth score. I knew we had three solid seniors who would do well, but the fourth score. . . I never know what it will be. Three times {during the regular season} all we needed was a 51 {for nine holes}, but we didn't get it."

Junior Mike Miranda and sophomore Bryan Rice each came up with one solid round (83 and 85 respectively) to help the Cougars to the title. With steady senior Brian Quackenbush shooting 75-75-150 to finish second individually, Oakton broke away from a first-day tie with Robinson. Seniors Tom Casey (80-77-157) and John Carlson (83-79-162) also posted scores among the top 16 players.

The regional crown is Oakton's second in Autry's eight years at Oakton. In each of the Cougars' previous three state appearances,they have finished in the top three, which includes the 1985 championship.

Lee was fortunate to reach the state tournament. It took a disqualification of Robinson's Brad Trussell to push them through. Trussell, who shot a 79 in the second round, signed his scorecard with a score of 78. But Trussell scored a five on the 17th hole instead of the four he recorded. After the mistake was discovered and Trussell's score was discounted, Robinson had to count its next best score, which was an 83 by Kevin Dillard. If Trussell's 79 had counted the Rams would have finished second, two strokes ahead of Lee. But the 83 dropped them to third, two strokes behind, and out of state tourney contention.

Lee, the two-time defending Gunston District champions, was led by Jeff Jividen (83-76-159), Matt Carlin (80-80-160) and Mike Bousselaire (79-82-161). Jividen tied for seventh place and was Lee's only top 10 finisher. But the Lancers' balance kept them in the running, and after Robinson's unfortunate break, Lee advanced to the state tournament.

Albright captured the individual competition by carding a pair of two-over par 74's. His consistent play throughout the two days made the difference.

"I haven't been making many birdies with my putter, but I made several par-saving putts," Albright said. The Langley junior, who has won the Great Falls District title the last two years, did not qualify for the state tournament a year ago when he made a double-bogey on the 18th hole and missed the cut by one stroke.

Last spring Albright broke his left thumb, sidelining him for five weeks. When he returned he had to try a new putting grip with his left thumb over the top of his right hand, which has helped him. "I putt through the ball now and hit the ball a little stronger," Albright said.

In last week's tournament Albright found himself in a three-way battle for first place with West Springfield's Eric Gaskell and Quackenbush. Gaskell, who qualified for state with a 154, held a one-shot lead going into the final nine, but took a triple-bogey on the 10th hole, while Albright chipped in for a birdie, leaving Quackenbush, who finished third in last year's regional, to challenge Albright.

Albright bogeyed the 15th after double-bogeying it the day before, but Quackenbush put his ball in the water on the way to a double-bogey. It gave Albright, who twice chipped in for birdies in the final round, the edge he needed to hold on for a two-shot victory.

McLean's team did not qualify for this tournament, but two of its individuals excelled and advanced to the state tournament. Joon Chang and Ricky Peel, both sophomores, placed third and fourth among the 71 players competing. Chang's first-day 77 left him three shots off the pace, but his two-over par 74 on the second day earned him the spot behind Albright and Quackenbush. Peel carded a 75 on the first day, but dropped out of the race for first with a slow start and finished tied for fourth place with Gaskell at 154. "These are two players you'll be hearing alot about for a couple more years," said McLean Coach Jim Mulloy.