For a third straight year, the St. Cloud girls’ golf team is headed to the state golf championships and this time they did not need to wait around for an at-large bid. The Lady Bulldogs, behind sophomore Karolyna Adams’ two-over par 74, tied Lake Nona for Class 3A, Region 2 golf championship on Tuesday morning.
St. Cloud would lose the regional championship in a playoff, as Lake Nona shot a team-collective even par 20 on the first playoff hole; compared to a one-over par 21 by the Lady Bulldogs. Still, the official second place regional finish earned St. Cloud an automatic spot in the FHSAA State Golf Championships, Nov. 10-11.
The 16-team, two-day championship is slated for the Par 72, 5,455 Mission Inn and Resort Golf Club in Howey-In-The-Hills. It marks the first time in Osceola County history that a golf team (boys or girls) qualified for the state championship in three consecutive years, and it also was the first time that the Lady Bulldogs grabbed an automatic bid. In 2021 and 2022, the team finished third in regional play and had to wait until all regional scores were tabulated and ranked to see if they secured one of the eight state-wide at-large berths.
In 2022, the Lady Bulldogs finished in 10th place overall in the state tournament that was shortened to one round because of inclement weather. Two years ago, the Lady Bulldogs finished 12th behind the strength of a fourth place finish from Morgan Beaulieu—a current starter on Arkansas State’s women’s golf team. It remains the highest individual finish in history by an Osceola County golfer.
Tuesday’s battle came down to the wire, as Lake Nona and St. Cloud shot matching team scores of 322 (par was 288) to avoid a three-way playoff with Viera (323) by just one shot. Had it gone to a three-way playoff and only the top two teams would have earned an automatic berth, and one team would have been left to worry about the at-large process.
In addition to Adams – who secured a top 35 finish at the state tournament as a freshman – St. Cloud got counting scores from freshman Maddie Burda, who posted an eight-over 80. Seniors Tess Sheive and Cayden Challacombe shot matching 84s to account for St. Cloud’s 34-over score of 322.
The top of Lake Nona’s roster played a major role in gaining a tie with St. Cloud, as the Lions top two golfers — sophomore Shree Parikh (77) and Isabella Melendez (78) — each broke 80. Gi-Rang Park (83) and Nicole Kim (84) also posted counting scores for the Lions.
Individually, Adams finished ninth overall. East Ridge’s Alex Remaklus took medalist honors with a nifty four-under-par 68; East River’s Ann Burel was second (71); with Viera’s Hannah Hall, Olympia’s Emma Ryan and Windermere’s Wendy Xizhao tying for third with even par 72s.
The second place finish continues an outstanding season for the Lady Bulldogs, who won their own invitational in September and won Orange Belt Conference and District Championships earlier in October.
Regional play was not as kind to the boys’ squads from Celebration and St. Cloud.
The Storm, won last week’s 3A, District 7 championship in Lakeland, and St. Cloud finished third in the 3A District 6 championship. But neither team was able to advance out of the super tough Region 2 Tournament that featured five of the top 12 ranked teams in the state of Florida.
St. Cloud (318) and Celebration (322) finished ninth and 10th in the tournament. Dr. Phillips was the winner of the tournament, shooting a stunning one-under par 287 in the match; while Windermere grabbed the other automatic qualifying spot with an almost equally impressive, one-over 289. Viera (294), Winter Park (298) and Lake Nona (299) all broke 300 and put themselves in good position to qualify for at-large berths.
Storm senior George Aguilera found himself in a four-way tie for fourth with a two-under 70 in the tournament but lost a playoff for an automatic at-large berth to the state tournament. He will now have to wait until the final rankings come out to see if he is included as at at-large spot in the state tournament. It was a rough day for the Storm, who had all four of their top golfers break 80 in both the OBC and District tournament. While Aguilera shot 70, the other three players shot in the 80s Monday, including Will Cooper (81), Braiden Plaisted (85) and Ethan Badillo (86).
The lack of a fourth strong player hurt any chance of the Bulldogs team from advancing out of the tough regional. Alexander Owen (73), Ethan Parrish (74) and Espn Pool (76) were just seven-over combined; but the fourth counting score was a 95, which pushed them well outside the top five.
Ten different golfers finished par or better in the event. Windermere’s Carson Baez won medalist honors in a three-way playoff with Viera’s Shayaan Kim and Dr. Phillips Taneesh Sirivolu – who all shot three-under 69s.