Dan PearsonBy:  J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

It was a record setting day for the St. Cloud Lady Bulldogs Golf Team, as they broke the county mark for the lowest team score in a competition with a 19-over 307 to finish second behind perennial state power Lake Nona (295) in the Class 3A, District 6 Championships at Royal St. Cloud Golf Course.

With the second place finish, the Lady Bulldogs automatically advance to next week’s Class 3A, Region 2 Tournament.

St. Cloud was led by Tess Shieve and Jenna Barnett, who shot career-low rounds of 74 and 75 respectively over the Par 72 course.  Freshman Karolyna Adams chipped in with a 78 and Cayden Challacombe shot 80.  Lake Nona posted four scores in the 70s to win the title, led by medalist Samantha Chao, who shot one-under par 71 to take medalist honors.

“I was absolutely elated with our effort today,” Bulldogs coach Jim Endicott said.  “We had two players shoot personal bests, we came within one shot of having four scoring golfers break 80 and we set a county record on top of it with a 307.  If we perform like this at regionals, there is no reason to believe we won’t make it back to the state championship.”

The performance leaves the Lady Bulldogs one step away from a second consecutive appearance in the state tournament.  Last year, behind then-senior Morgan Beaulieu, St. Cloud became just the second girls’ team in county history to earn a spot in the state championship tournament (Harmony 2016) when they finished fourth with a score of 329 in their region but snagged one of four at-large spots in the tournament.    Paced by Beaulieu’s fifth place finish, the Lady Bulldogs eventually finished 12th last season.

The top three teams in each of the four regions earn a trip to states, with four at-large bids awarded  on a state-wide basis based on stroke scoring average, course slope rating and Iwanamaker rating (IWR) from the both the district and regional tournaments.  This is to allow deserving teams competing in tougher regionals to earn a spot in the state championship.

It was not the only record to come out of the district tournaments that were held on Monday and Tuesday as Osceola County will be represented by a record five teams at next week’s regionals; as well as by an additional individual.

At the District 6 girls’ tournament on Tuesday, Harmony – led by a career low 76 by senior Jordan Pidgeon – posted a 356 total to edge Winter Park by two strokes (358) and claim the third place overall and earn the final team spot in next week’s Region 2 Championship.

While Girls’ District 6 event was being contested, the Celebration boys were playing in the Class 3A, District 7 Tournament at Eaglebrook Country Club in Lakeland.  Celebration posted a 317 to capture second place, finishing behind district champion Winter Haven (297), but ahead of third place George Jenkins (330) to secure an automatic qualifying spot to regionals.  Will Cooper shot a 71 to lead a trio of juniors for the Storm. He was joined by Ethan Badillo (75) and George Aguilera (84); while senior Jack Crawford (87) posted the final counting score for the Storm.

Also on Tuesday at the Class 2A, District 7 Tournament at Schalamar Creek in Winter Haven, Gateway’s Will Giger captured one of three available at-large spots with a four-over 76 and will move on to the Class 2A, Region 2 Championship at Orlando’s Dubsdread Golf Course next week.

On Monday, both the St. Cloud boys’ team and the Celebration girls’ team each advanced punched their tickets to the Regional Finals. 

At Royal St. Cloud, the competition was intense in the District 6 boys’ 3A Tournament as only three shots separated the top three teams.  Lake Nona won the event with a solid 13-over-par team score of 301.  Winter Park was second at 303 with St. Cloud coming in third at 304.   Consistency was the key for the Lions, as Will Browning, Diego Passos and Emile Garcia all posted two-over-par rounds of 74.  Anthony Anderson, the team’s number four player, checked in with a 79 to complete their scoring.

Winter Park was led by its number two player, Walker Lee, who earned medalist honors for the entire event by posting a three-under 69 over the 6,711-yard, par 72 course.

Although they earned the final qualifying spot by finishing third, St. Cloud was never challenged for that position as they beat the number four team – Boone — by 28 shots.  Gunnar Green led the way with a two-under 70; while Espn Pool (77), Alexander Owen (78) and Ethan Parrish (79) rounded out the scoring players for the Bulldogs. 

The 303 was one shot higher than the Bulldogs shot at last week’s Orange Belt Conference Championship and was somewhat disconcerting to Coach Jim Endicott.  “Gunnar was outstanding but I don’t think we shot anywhere near our potential today.  Ethan has been averaging around par all season and unfortunately he was a little off. Alex was sailing along at three over and then takes a triple on the par 3, 17th.  The main thing is we were able to advance and move on but we will definitely need to be better to make the state tournament.”

At the girls’ 3A, District 7 Championship at Eaglebrook Monday, Celebration also advanced to the girls regional as they won their district tournament with a team score of 389.  Arianna Leon (80), Natalie Quionnes (82), Erin Ozyurek (97) and Julia Barbara (120) posted counting scores for the Lady Storm.  Lakeland (406) and Bartow (440) also advance.

Royal St. Cloud will host both the boys’ (Monday, Oct. 31) and girls’ (Tuesday, Nov. 1) Region 2 Championships.   Twelve teams and 12 individuals will compete in the tournament with the boys’ event featuring Celebration and St. Cloud; while girls’ field will include St. Cloud, Harmony and Celebration.  The event starts at 8 a.m. on both days.