Following two tough Bull-Run District wins against the two teams most likely to challenge for the district title, the George Mason High School varsity golf team sits atop the standings, poised and ready to cruise to a second straight championship.
After squeaking by Madison County by five strokes, the Mustangs downed an incredibly deep Clarke County squad, to improve to 4-0 in the district.
Against Madison County, led by reigning district Player of the Year in senior Joe Canosa, the Mustangs managed to edge the Mountaineers behind another outstanding performance by sophomore Evans Mandes, who shot an 89.
Mandes, the No. 3 golfer for Mason, has managed to put together a string of incredibly impressive rounds throughout the season, consistently being at or near the top of the scorers for each Bull Run District match.
Senior Mike Straub and junior Drew Davies, No. 1 and 2 golfers for Mason, respectively, each shot a 91, while sophomore Michael Duning rounded out the team’s top four scorers, shooting a 93.
“Evans has really stepped it up for us this year,” said Mustang coach Bill Broderick, the reigning district Coach of the Year. “I knew that Mike and Drew would be pretty steady, but Evans has been very consistent and that is the key in golf.”
Steady scores up and down the roster proved to be the difference maker for Mason, and although Canosa shot an 87 for the Mountaineers, their remaining golfers were unable to down the Mustangs.
Rising junior Sean Butler entered this season slated to be the No. 4 golfer on the roster, a year after solidly filling the No. 6 spot for the Mustangs. However, due to a parent job transfer, a major question mark for the Mustangs throughout the season appeared to be who would fill the void left by Butler's departure.
“Down the stretch, the key to defending our title is just to have a fourth score that gives us a chance to win,” said Broderick.
In their match against Clarke, who Broderick referred to as the “deepest team” in the district, Chris An showed flashes of brilliance, leading many to hope that he could be that missing piece to the championship puzzle.
The junior, An, shot a career best 87, which is first time he has broken 90 in his stint on the golf team, as the Mustangs eked past the Eagles by eight strokes to improve to 4-0.
Once again, Mandes (86) and Straub (87) paved the way for victory for Mason. The team also received a career-low round from Duning (92) who beat his lowest round by one stroke to round out the Mustang's top four scorers on the afternoon.
Clarke County, led by sophomore Kevin Wiseman who tied for the match's low round of 86, were without the services of one of their top four players due to illness, which definitely provided a window of opportunity for the Mustangs to cruise past Clarke.
“I think our guys need to be credited for doing a great job by remaining focused and playing through some really wet conditions,” commented Broderick. “I am especially proud of Chris who really came through for us on a day when some of our regular top guys did not have their best stuff.”
However, the road to the Region B tournament is not clear yet, as the Mustangs still have some tough matches remaining this year, the highlight of which will be an away match at Madison County.
“Our goal for the year is to make it back to the Region B Tournament as a
team,” stated Broderick. We would love to win the district for a second straight year, but
that would really be a bonus.”
The team will host Bull Run District opponent Manassas Park on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. at Fairfax National Golf Club, as they look to down the Cougars to stay perfect in the district.