Bad news may travel fast, but good news apparently moves a lot slower.
It wasn’t known until 18 hours after the regional competition ended, but the St. Cloud High Girls’ Golf Team has secured one of the four at-large team bids to the FHSAA State Championship Tournament. They join the 2016 Harmony team as the only girls team in county history to advance to the state championship — the 36-hole tournament is scheduled for Nov. 15-16 at Mission Inn Resort and Club at Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla.
St. Cloud finished fourth at Wednesday’s Class 3A, Region 3 Tournament at Cleveland Heights Golf Course in Lakeland. The top three team finishers in each region automatically qualify for the state tournament. But after a fourth place finish, St. Cloud had to sit around to find out whether they grabbed one of four at-large spots awarded based on a combined district/regional showing. The FHSAA announced St. Cloud was one of the four at-large teams on Thursday morning.
“At-large bids provide access for non-automatic qualifiers who may have been in a super tough regional or district. They base it on factors like stroke play, course rating and other factors,” Bulldogs head coach Jim Endicott said. “A fourth-place team in a tough regional may be better than a team that won a lesser regional and that’s the purpose of the at-large bids.”
Lake Nona won the tournament with a team score of 314, St. Cloud was fourth at 329 – just two shots behind second-place Lakeland (327) and one shot behind third-place Viera (328). “To tell the truth I did not think we all that sharp today,” Endicott said. “But we kept grinding and making some key putts on the backside. I’m so proud of the overall effort we had to get one of the at-large spots and become just the second girls’ team from the county to get to the state tournament.”
Elan Zhang (Dr. Phillips), Analiese Raath (Lakeland) and Mei Chan (Lake Nona) all tied for first with an even-par 72, with Zhang taking medalist honors in a playoff. Darby Hancock (Kathleen) was solo fourth with a 73.
Senior Morgan Beaulieu led the Bulldogs with a two-over 74 over the 5,553-yard Cleveland Heights Golf Club in Lakeland. She shot identical sides of 37-37 with two birdies and four bogeys on her card. Her 74 was good for solo fifth place and would have easily qualified her for the state tournament as an individual. A four-time OBC Champion who won the individual district championship last week, Beaulieu has participated in the last two state championships – finishing 18th last year.
Junior Jenna Barnett played the final eight holes in even par to post a 40-37-77 to tie for 10th place overall. Sophomore Tess Shieve (88) and senior Nadia Burda (90) also shot counting scores for St. Cloud. Sophomore Cayden Challacombe shot a non-counting 96 to round out the St. Cloud effort.
Harmony and Celebration also competed in the regional. The Longhorns qualified with a third place finish in the St. Cloud regional; while Celebration took second in the District 11 Tournament at North Shore. The Storm finished in sixth place with a 358 total; Harmony was eighth at 378.
Ariana Leon (84) and Natalie Quionnes (86) led Celebration with a 21st and 26th place finish. Both are freshmen. Clara Lee and Erin Ozyurek shot identical 94s for the Storm’s other counting scores. Jordan Pidgeon led all Harmony golfers with an 84 to tie for 21st.