By Andy Warrener
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
Freedom girls golfer Terese Romeo has made quite the impact in her short time playing in high school.
During her freshman season last year, Romeo carded a 77 at the Class 2A-District 10 meet to finish tied for fourth. Her score helped the Patriots finish third at the event, the last qualifying spot for the playoffs, by four strokes over Newsome.
Her sophomore campaign has been a bit rockier, as the Freedom’s ace has been recovering from three surgeries on her right wrist to shave down a pointed bone.
Rich Simard, who has been coaching the Patriots program since the school opened in 2002, said Romeo was competing while using only one arm because of the surgery, but recovered enough to regain her normal form last week. She has averaged a 56.1 while golfing exclusively with her left hand.
“She’s been here every day,” Simard said. “She loves golf and being on the team. She’s a very, very tough kid.”
Simard said Romeo is nearly healed from the surgery and expects her to be 100 percent by the district tournament. He added that she has a “very good” chance to make it to states this season.
Along with Romeo, Simard returns four of his top-five golfers this year.
Filling in for Romeo at the No. 1 spot is junior Meagan Pollenz.
Simard said Pollenz is the most improved golfer from 2011, and that she’s cut her scores from the high 40s last year to close to the 30s in 2012. He said the competition with rival Wharton in their district has given his players something to shoot for.
“It drives them,” Simard said. “They all know each other. There’s some camaraderie there.”
The Freedom boys are coming off a district runner-up season, but lose three of their top-five golfers to graduation.
Fortunately for the Patriots, they return their No. 1 Jimmy Jones.
The junior won an individual district title last year by shooting a 71. Fourth-year Freedom coach Michael Passarelli said he will lean heavily on Jones and his other returning player, junior Chandler Howe.
Jones is also recovering from a wrist injury, a fracture he suffered last December in hockey. He hasn’t let the break slow him down and said he feels “pretty good” now.
Sophomore Liam Doherty has hit well enough to take the No. 2 spot after scarcely playing last year.
“(Doherty) has been our most consistent player since the first round this season,” Passarelli said. “He’s been playing very well.”
Howe has jumped into the third spot early in the season and solidifies the ranks in a deep team, according to Passarelli. Junior Charles Seward and senior Trevor Moore round out a top five that Passarelli hopes to challenge powerhouse Newsome with.
Seward is possibly the team’s most improved golfer, having knocked “six to seven” strokes off his average from last year, according to Passarelli. The coach added that Moore “hasn’t even played to his potential yet.”
The girls 2A-10 tournament is at Walden Lake Country Club in Plant City on Oct. 15, the same day the boys are at Summerfield Golf Course in Riverview. The tournaments start at 8 a.m.
—Sports editor Kyle LoJacono contributed to this report
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