When the last putt dropped, it was no surprise that the St. Cloud Bulldogs once again sit on top of the Orange Belt Conference throne as county golf champions.
The St. Cloud boys’ team shot an impressive team score of 302 on Tuesday morning to outduel Celebration by just 10 shots (312). Harmony (381) was third and Tohopekaliga (415) finished fourth. The effort capped off a sweep for the school, as the Lady Bulldogs (318) easily got by Harmony (359) and Celebration (368) to win sixth consecutive OBC crown on Monday afternoon. Both championships were contested at Royal St. Cloud Golf Course.
In the boys’ championship, St. Cloud senior Gunnar Green posted a roller coaster round of level par 72 to win the individual championship over teammate Alexander Owen (74) and Celebration’s George Aguilera (74), who tied for second.
It was a crazy round for Green, who birdied the first hole and then proceeded to bogey three of the next five holes to fall two-over after six. He would then birdie holes eight and nine to finish the front side in even par 36. He would make three birdies on the back side also bogey three holes to finish 36-36-72 on the 6,711-yard layout. Overall, he made par on just six of 18 holes.
“I rolled in a good putt for a birdie on one and was feeling pretty good,” Green said. “But then I got a couple wet, dicey lies and just missed some greens. It was a pretty strange round, one where I could have shot really low, but it also one where I had to make some shots down the stretch and felt really fortunate to finish at 72.”
Overall, the Bulldogs had all four counting scores at 79 or better. Joining Green and Owen on the All-OBC team where teammates Espn Pool (5th-77) and Ethan Parrish (7th-79). “We did not get off to a great start,” Bulldogs coach Jim Endicott said. “I was really proud of the way they battled back to finish.”
Celebration, which finished runner-up to St. Cloud last year with a team score of 321, improved that total by nine shots. Three Storm golfers earned All-Conference. Joining Aguilera on the podium was Jermiah Bianchi (4th-76) and Ethan Badillo (8th-80). The fourth counting score from the Storm came from Braiden Plasted, who shot a respectable 82. Also earning all-conference honors was Gateway’s William Giger, who tied for fifth with a 77.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty well today,” Storm coach Greg Raklovits said. “On any given day, any one of our top four guys has a chance to shoot close to par. We have a deep team and look forward to competing for a district title next week in Lakeland.”
On the girls’ side, about the only mystery was which St. Cloud player would win individual medalist honors.
That issue was settled on the last hole when freshman Karolyna Adams would drop a 15-foot putt for her only birdie of the day in finishing with a four-over 76. Finishing two groups later, Cayden Challacombe had an 18-foot birdie putt to tie Adams but saw her effort fall two-feet short. Adams becomes the third girl golfer ever and first since Morgan Beaulieu in 2018 to win OBC’s as a freshman.
Adams, who had pars on eight of her first nine holes and finished with a 37-39-76, called her round “Relatively stress-free, I had a lot of fun out there, relaxed and just sort of played my game.” In addition to Adams and Challacombe, who finished 14 strokes better than last year’s seventh place finish (91), the Lady Bulldogs placed two other golfers on the All-OBC team as senior Jenna Barnett (80) tied for third and junior Tess Shieve (85) finished in seventh.
Also earning All-OBC team was Harmony’s Jordan Pidgeon (T3-80) and Aryana Persaud (8th-87); as well as Celebration’s Natalie Quiones (T-3-80) and Adriana Leon (6th-83). A sophomore, Leon finished second at last year’s championship.
Both St. Cloud teams – as well as Harmony and Tohopekaliga — will compete in the Class 3A, Region 2, District 6 Championships at Royal St. Cloud with the boys teeing off at 8 a.m. Monday and the girls tournament slated for 8 a.m. Tuesday. Lake Nona is expected to be the main challenger for St. Cloud. Celebration’s teams are slated to complete Class 3A, Region 2, Region 7 tournament at the Club at Eaglebrook in Lakeland; with the boys slated for Monday and the girls on Tuesday. George Jenkins, Winter Haven and Bartow are some of the top teams in that region.