Sports

Longtime Champion George Mason Golf Faces Season Woes

The perfection had to end sometime.

George Mason High School’s varsity golf team, which had not lost a regular season dual match since 2006, succumbed to early-season woes on the road, falling to Bull Run District rival Clarke County 361-338 on August 13, just days before dropping a non-district contest to Brentsville High at home by a mere six strokes.

The perfection had to end sometime.

George Mason High School’s varsity golf team, which had not lost a regular season dual match since 2006, succumbed to early-season woes on the road, falling to Bull Run District rival Clarke County 361-338 on August 13, just days before dropping a non-district contest to Brentsville High at home by a mere six strokes.

On Monday at Fairfax National Golf Course against Brentsville, Mason coach Chris Carrico’s alma mater, the Mustangs had a lackluster effort across the board. Senior Evans Mandes was the high scorer with 87, while classmate Michael Wolfe shot an 89. Senior Michael Duning (93) and sophomore Ben Tourkin (104) also contributed.

“It should not have been a close match at all, we should have handed it to them,” Wolfe said. “We should never be shooting 370. Once we realized the streak was done, we laid back a little bit.”

On the heels of the squad’s second loss of the season, Mason rebounded in kind on Tuesday in a nine-hole match at Bull Run opponent Madison County 185-172. Wolfe rang in first with a 40, while Mandes shot a 42. Tourkin provided the highlight of the match, though, finding his stroke by firing a 44. It was a solid effort across the board, rounded out by Duning’s 46.

“After Brentsville, we needed a good nine-hole match to get back into the groove of things,” Wolfe said. “Duning still didn’t shoot well but hopefully that will turn around. Tourkin was very unexpected. Hopefully that’s a trend that will continue throughout the season.”

The winning streak came to an end on August 13 in a tri-meet with Madison County and Clarke County, though only Mason’s match with the Eagles was scored. The Mustangs came out on the losing end by 23 strokes.

The elusive fourth golfer came back to bite Mason in a big way. Tourkin shot a 108 behind Duning’s 80. Mandes had an unusually sluggish round, firing an 89 while Wolfe shot in the mid-80s.

“It was kind of rough,” Wolfe said. “We knew going in that Clarke didn’t lose a single golfer out of their top six, so they all were returning and all have been playing and getting better. We knew that without a fourth golfer that we didn’t have a chance.”

Had Mason scored against the Mountaineers, the Mustangs would have won running away. Madison County shot a 413. Josh Honaker led with a round of 95.

Sandwiched in between the two losses was a road match against Manassas Park last Thursday. Played at 10 a.m., Mason shook off the early-morning jitters to roll by 15 strokes. Sophomore Will Powell posted a personal-best 96, while Duning shot an 80. Wolfe, who shot an 86, and Mandes, who fired a 91, rounded out the Mustangs’ top four.

Still, the team remains confident that things will be turned around in time for the district tournament at the end of September. Five Bull Run matches remain as well as a non-district meeting at home against Washington-Lee High.

Mason headed into Thursday’s morning match against Strasburg High at Jackson’s Chase golf course at a 2-2 clip overall and 2-1 in the Bull Run. After that, the Mustangs begin a stretch of four consecutive matches at home, giving the squad an opportunity to shake off the early losses on familiar grass and sand.

Yet, the effects of losing have taken a toll on the squad’s seniors, many of whom were around for the past two perfect seasons.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be our senior year,” Wolfe sad. “I was very disappointed, because we couldn’t say we went undefeated throughout our high school careers. A weight is definitely lifted off, but it’s not a good weight. I liked knowing that I went into the Clarke match focused knowing what was on the line.”

So what’s the upside of the undefeated run ending?

“Hopefully we do start a new streak and the new kids can continue it down the road,” Wolfe said.

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