By: J. Daniel Pearson for Positively Osceola
It was a great two days on the links this week for several local high school golf teams, as both the Celebration boys and St. Cloud girls earned District Golf Championships on Monday and will advance to regional play next week. The St.Cloud boys participated on Tuesday and finished third in a tough district to also advance to regionals.
Behind sophomore Karolyna Adams’ second place finish of 3-over-par 75, the St. Cloud girls registered a team score of 316 to win the 3A District 6 title over strong contenders Lake Nona (334) and Winter Park (348). East River was a distant fourth and Harmony was fifth. Adams was steady all day over the windy, 5,299-yard, and Par 72 track. She posted 13 pars, four bogeys and added a birdie on the 330-yard second hole.
But it was the team’s overall depth — a strong point of St. Cloud’s roster for the past couple of seasons — that made the big difference. The Lady Bulldogs placed three other golfers inside the top 10 with Tess Sheive and Cayden Challacombe tying for seventh place with matching 8-over par 80s. Freshman Maddie Burda rounded out the counting scores for St. Cloud, finishing 10th — one shot behind seventh with an 81.
“Repeating as district champions was a testament to how hard these girls have worked all year,” St. Cloud coach Alejandro Sanchez said. “Our depth obviously made a difference and it’s great when you have a fifth golfer that can post a counting score when you need it. It takes a lot of pressure off everyone. But I still do not believe this team has peaked yet and hopefully we can post enough good scores next week to make it back to states.”
East River’s Ann Burel (73) was individual low medalist in the District; Winter Park’s Madison Malaret and Lake Nona’s Isabella Melendez tied for third behind Adams with matching 76s.
The Lady Bulldogs will attempt to move on the 3A State Championships for a second consecutive year when they host the FHSAA Region 2 Championships at Royal St. Cloud beginning at 8 a.m. To advance to the state finals, they must register a top two finish among the 12 competing teams. The two lowest individual scores from non-qualifying teams will also advance.
Over at Cleveland Height Golf Club in Lakeland, Fla. on Monday, the Celebration boys’ team — coming off their big win at the Orange Belt Conference Championships a week earlier — was also impressive as they posted four counting scores in the 70s to win the 3A, District 7 championship.
The Storm was led by George Aguilera, who shot a one-under par 71 over the tight 6,485-yard layout. Aguilera posted four birdies, three bogeys and 11 pars in shooting 34-37-71 to win medalist honors. As with the Lady Bulldogs, depth on the Storm roster proved to be the difference.
Will Cooper (73), Jeremiah Bianchi (79) and Ethan Badillo (79) all broke 80 as the Storm finished with a team score of 15-over 303 to beat second place Winter Haven by eight shots (311). George Jenkins (319) also qualified for regionals with a third place finish, Bartow (330), Lakeland (342) and Kathleen (408) rounded out the top six.
“I’m not sure how they rank these teams sometimes, but they had both Winter Haven and Jenkins ahead of us after the regular season and we handled them on their own turf and we did so without playing our best golf,” Storm coach George Raklovits said. “I feel we have five golfers on our roster that are all capable of shooting par or better. If we can get four guys to perform like that next week, the state tournament is definitely within our reach.”
Next up for the Storm will be a trip to the Region 2 Championships hosted by Windermere High School. The one-day championships will be contested at the Legends of Orange Lake County Club, located just a few miles down the street from the Celebration campus. It will not be an easy task for the Storm, as three of the top eight teams in Class 3A are located inside the region. “We have already played the Legends course in a tournament this year and we will get some practice on it this week,” Raklovits added. “It is an extremely difficult regional but again, we are a senior-laden team and we are going to approach it with a lot of confidence.”
A year after graduating some major talent, the St. Cloud boys still had enough to get through a tough district and advance and join Celebration in the Region 2 tournament by virtue of a third place finish at District 6 tournament on Tuesday at Royal St. Cloud.
The Bulldogs (318) finished third behind Lake Nona (308) and Winter Park (312) – edging out Boone (318) by just two shots for the third and final regional qualifying spot. Lake Nona’s Will Browning was the individual medalist with a one-under 71. St. Cloud was led by Ethan Parrish’s one-over par 73 (37-36-73). Espn Pool and Alexander Own each shot 77s.