Kyoo Hwang was nervous heading to the seventh hole of the District V tournament at Eisenhower Golf Course in Crownsville last week. He was 6-over-par, and his chances of qualifying for his second straight state tournament were dwindling.
"But I didn't let my bad start bother me; I just focused on making par on every hole," said Hwang, a junior at Mount Hebron. "I knew I just had to start making some putts."
Hwang parred the final 12 holes to finish at 77, second to Josh Peck of Broadneck, who carded a 74.
Hwang, who tied for 14th at the Maryland 4A/3A championships last year, was one of four county players who qualified for this year's state meet at the University of Maryland. River Hill junior Justin Fabling tied for third at the District V meet with a 78, and Centennial freshman Chris Wellde tied for sixth at 80, both under the 81-stroke cut.
"At Districts, I didn't shoot as well as I could have, but it was a pretty big tournament and that might have contributed to it," said Wellde. "But I've been practicing every day for the state meet, and my goal is to place in the top five. I'd say the state tournament will be the hardest tournament I've ever played in."
Atholton's Leslie Walker qualified for the 2A/1A tournament with an 82 and a tie for fifth place at the District V tournament, in which girls needed to shoot 102 or under to advance to the state meet.
Fabling and Wellde will be making their first appearances in the state tournament; Walker placed seventh at the 2A/1A meet last fall with a 22-over-par 94.
This year's state tournament, from Oct. 25 to 27, consists of two rounds, with the combined score determining the winner.
"My goal is to win the state title," Hwang said. "I think I have more experience this year, but still need to do better with my short game."
A Familiar Ring
Though Vince Taweel acknowledges he's an average soccer player, the sophomore possesses something no other player on Hammond's boys' soccer team has: a state title.
Taweel became the school's first freshman to win a state wrestling title last winter. The 125-pound All-Met capped a 34-5 season by claiming the 2A/1A state championship.
"His experience as a wrestler is why I want Vince on our team, because he's already run through the gauntlet by knowing what it takes to win a state title," said Hammond Coach Rick Bantz, whose team entered the week 5-5-1 after winning just two games last fall. "And in wrestling, it's a more severe gauntlet because there's no one to blame but yourself if you lose. He's a tenacious bulldog out there for us."
Taweel recorded his first goal last week in overtime against Centennial. Following a Hammond corner kick, the ball deflected off teammate Patrick Preziotti and was heading out of bounds. But Taweel, positioned a few feet in front of the goal post, performed a bicycle kick that sent the ball into the top of the net for a 1-0 win.
"I could try that shot a million times and wouldn't make it," Taweel said. "But that one time I hit it perfectly."
Taweel's play occurred minutes after he spoke to his teammates about winning close contests, something he did on the wrestling mat last winter.
"I told our team this is right where we wanted to be: in a close game that was going to come down to the next goal," Taweel said. "We needed to see if we could rise to the occasion."
After Glenelg's volleyball team overpowered Centennial to claim the county titles in each of the past two seasons, Eagles Coach Mike Bossom credits his team's commitment in the weight room as the reason they entered the week as the league's only undefeated team.
Centennial (9-0 overall and league) took over the top spot in The Post's poll last week for the first time since 1996 after defeating then-top-ranked Calvert in the final of the North Caroline tournament.
"They knew they had to get stronger, and they have really worked hard in the weight room since the summer and that's made a big difference," Bossom said. "I think they've learned a lot from losing to Glenelg and then in the region tournament, so they know what it feels like to be on the losing side and don't want to go through it again."
Centennial, which defeated Glenelg earlier this season, will face the Gladiators again in the county championship match on Nov. 3 if both teams win their final five games.
"Since Glenelg beat us before, we now have the confidence of knowing we can beat them," senior hitter Margot Phelan said. "One of our goals is to get the county title back."