It has been quite a season for the George Mason varsity golf team. After losing their No.1 player from last year and the departure of Head Coach Dan Wilkie, the team believed this season to be a “rebuilding year.” However, with three crucial victories last week against Strasburg, Manassas Park, and district powerhouse Madison County, the Mustangs (9-1) claimed the first district title in the team’s history and an automatic bid to the regional tournament.
“The key to claiming this year’s district championship was consistency,” said head coach Bill Broderick. “We put up pretty close to the same score match in and match out.”
The Mustangs success this season has not gone unnoticed; at Tuesday’s District Tournament Broderick was named Coach of the Year while Andy Pribulka earned All-District Honors after shooting an impressive score of 80 to tie for third.
Mason’s last three regular season victories gave the team the push it needed to continue into post-season play.
Despite poor scores from the co-captains last Monday, the team was able to hold their own against Strasburg. Sophomore Drew Davies led the team shooting 42, with senior Cody Peebles close behind 45. Junior Mike Straub shot 46, and freshman Evans Mandes shot a respectable 49.
Last Tuesday’s victory was more commanding for the Mustangs, as they clobbered Manassas Park at General’s Ridge. Straub shot a 41, and Peebles again followed close with a solid 45. Pribulka and Davies shot a pair of 47s to put the match away and preserve Mason’s district title hopes.
It all came down to the final regular season match last Wednesday at Fairfax National against Madison County, a team who was unbeaten in the regular season last year. With both Mason and Madison having identical 8-1 records, the winner would clinch the automatic bid for the Oct. 3 regional tournament. Straub shot 43, with both Follin and Peebles shooting 45s. Pribulka rounded out the day with a 47 to give Mason a 180 total that edged out Madison’s 185 and secured the team their first regional bid since the 2004 season.
“The first thing I thought was ‘Wow we just defeated the defending Bull-Run District Champs!’” Broderick said. “I really enjoyed being around the team in such a competitive setting.”
The competition continued this past Tuesday, though not nearly as smoothly for the Mustangs, who placed third in the district competition. Pribulka’s score of 80 was the lone bright spot for the title team.
We were in a unique position because we didn’t have the pressure to succeed, said Broderick. “I think that affected our focus on the golf course and resulted in a score that was below our season’s average.”
The winner of the tournament, Madison, edged Clarke County in a tie-breaker to earn the district’s other bid in the Region B Tournament which starts on October 3.
Until then, Broderick promises the Mustang players will do plenty of “soul searching” and will focus on their individual weaknesses. Both of last season’s top two teams in the state, Randolph Henry and Nelson County, come from Region B making the Mustangs a definite dark horse to some.
Broderick isn’t concerned with expectations from others.
“A lot of people didn’t give us a chance to win the district either,” he said. “We’re just excited to have the opportunity to accomplish another first in school history and look forward to the challenge.”
A plan that has been a hole in one for the Mustangs so far this season.