Riders grab 4th place, place two golfers in top 10 at state championships

Caesar Rodney’s Matt Miller, left, and Akira Pavey each earned top 10 finishes. Miller placed fifth with a 149 and Pavey shot a 152 to place eighth. The Riders finished fourth as a team. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

DAGSBORO — It’s been a few years since Caesar Rodney High placed a pair of golfers in the top 10.

After battling through a several hour weather delay during Tuesday’s first round, Caesar Rodney’s Matt Miller bounced back and improved by five strokes in Wednesday’s final round.

The Riders’ junior, fresh off winning the Henlopen Conference individual title a week prior, shot a one-over par 72 to finish with a two-day score of 149 to place fifth in the DIAA Golf Championships at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club.

“I tried to play a little bit smarter today and tried to put myself in play where I could shoot as low as I possibly could, which I did,” said Miller. “I’m happy with what I shot yesterday and today.”

CR junior Matt Miller tees off on the front nine during Wednesday’s final round. Miller placed fifth overall and was the top finisher among Henlopen Conference golfers.

CR teammate Akira Pavey shot a combined 152 (73, 79) for an eighth-place finish.

“I wanted to finish my senior year strong,” said Pavey. “I haven’t been playing the best all year, but I buckled down, grinded and I came out here and played well.

“Overall, I had a great time. It was my last high school event and I’m really happy to have another First Team All-State to finish my career.”

It’s the first time CR has had two golfers in the top 10 since the 2016 tournament at Rehoboth Beach Country Club.

The Riders’ Akira Pavey chips a shot on the 18th hole green during his round of 79 on Wednesday.

The Riders failed to have a top 10 finish in 2018, while Pavey, as a sophomore, was CR’s lone top 10 finish in 2017.

The Riders combined to shoot a team score of 549, grabbing fourth place overall behind third place Tatnall School (546), second place Salesianum School (542) and team champion Tower Hill High (523).

It was Archmere Academy’s Phoebe Brinker who grabbed the individual title, shooting a 140 to grab her third overall state title. The junior also captured individual state titles in 2016 and 2018, shooting a combined 140 in each of those tourneys as well.

Brinker trailed Tower Hill’s Jennifer Cleary by four strokes after one day of competition but shot a four-under par 67 in the second round to take the crown.

“I was feeling great heading into today,” Brinker explained. “I was behind, so I knew I had to play a great round, but I was feeling excited to get the day started.

“It was great competition today, and I’m proud of the way I played. It feels great to get another one.”

Brinker, finishing at two-under par over the two-day tourney, won the title by four strokes.

Sussex Academy’s Hannah Lydic watches her second shot on hole five during Wednesday’s round.

Tower Hill’s Rylie Heflin (144), Red Lion Christian Academy’s Austin Barbin (146) and Cleary (147) rounded out the top five.

Tatnall’s Anthony Ciconte (149) and Jeff Homer (154) placed sixth and 10th, respectively, while seventh place Justin Walker (150) from Salesianum and ninth place Henry Stone (154) from Tower Hill rounded out the top 10 finishers.

Of the downstate golfers, Sussex Academy freshman Hannah Lydic shot a 160 to place 21st, Indian River High’s Colby Hook (160) placed 24th, Milford High’s Josh Strassle (166) grabbed 25th and IR’s Patrick Gogarty (169) finished 29th.

The Riders’ Weston Harrington and Jamie Harrington contributed to CR’s fourth-place team finish by each shooting a 169 for 30th and 31st place.

IR’s Colby Hook watches his shot on the front nine during Wednesday’s final round at Cripple Creek Country Club.

While the early-morning storm delay on Tuesday may have impacted the rhythm and momentum of some golfers, others didn’t believe it played a huge role in the tournament’s first round.

“Honestly, the weather delay didn’t affect me at all,” said Pavey. “When we went back out after the delay, I birdied the first hole back. I would say the only problem I had with yesterday’s round is I bogeyed 16, 17 and 18 to shoot two-over.”

State champion Brinker had only just teed off when the delay was called, giving her plenty of time to regroup before hitting her second shot on hole one a couple hours later.

“I actually only hit one shot,” Brinker explained. “Just sitting around and waiting was kind of a pain, but everyone else has to deal with it too.”

Indian River, Tatnall and Salesianum were the only three schools to have all of its participants make the cut heading into the tournament’s final round.

Indian River (585 points) placed sixth, while seventh place Sussex Academy (618), ninth place Cape Henlopen High (639) and 10th place Sussex Tech High (639) rounded out the downstate team scores.

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