Wesley Chapel advances to regionals
By Jeff Odom
It was unfamiliar territory for Mallory Echeberry.
After nervously waiting nearly two hours for the rest of the groups to finish at Tampa Bay Golf and Country Club in San Antonio, the Academy at the Lakes senior was sitting atop the scoreboard at the girls Class 1A-District 9 tournament Oct. 15.
Echeberry shot a 77, 11 strokes better than Wesley Chapel junior Hana Lee.
She was the academy’s only representative in the tournament and had never been to districts nor competed at the high school level in four years.
“I’m used to playing on my own, just for me, but now it feels like I’m playing for my school too and I have to represent them as well,” said Echeberry, a University of Akron commit. “It was a little more pressure, but it still feels good to do well.”
The road to the title wasn’t easy, as Echeberry’s group dodged scorching heat, bright afternoon sunshine and wildlife on the course.
The sprinklers came on the 15th green, forcing a delay after Echeberry missed a couple of shots, including one in the bunker.
Her frustration mounted before academy assistant Peggy Crowley stepped in to calm her down.
“(I told her), ‘It’s a game, it’s one day and it’s one hole,’” Crowley said. She added, “I just said, ‘Chill out, enjoy the day, you’re doing fine and whether you win or lose, it’s just one hole.’”
That talk brought back Echeberry’s confidence and led her to the win.
“I just stopped thinking about the bad shots I had and my struggling,” Echeberry said. “Really, (Crowley and I) weren’t talking about golf. We were talking about the deer we saw, and it was nice to get away from the golf on that short ride (to the 16th hole).”
One bad swing may have ended Lee’s chances for an individual title, but she advanced to regionals with her team.
Lee, who won an individual Sunshine Athletic Conference championship the week before, seemed under control early. Her critical mistake came on the eighth. She said she felt out of sync with her timing and balance from then on.
“I don’t know what happened; I was a little bit off, maybe,” Lee said. “I was struggling after the eighth hole, and I was about to give up halfway, but I decided not to because if I gave up halfway it would be even worse. I tried playing as best as I can and I didn’t break through the 90, which is good. It was just one of those days.”
Lee, who did not compete in golf last season to focus on academics, congratulated Echeberry on her victory.
“It was fun playing with her for the first time, and she played really hard even though she messed up on the back nine,” Lee said. “I hope to play with her again (at regionals). That would be really fun.”
As a team, Wesley Chapel finished with a 502, behind Gulf (452) and Fivay (453). Because 1A-9 had only three full teams, each advanced to regionals.
The regional tournament was Oct. 22 at the Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis. Results were not available by press time.
//Bulls girls’ first regional berth
Wiregrass Ranch finished third at the Class 2A-District 11 girls golf tournament Oct. 16 at Heritage Springs Country Club in Trinity, earning the first playoff berth in the program’s seven-year history.
The Bulls totaled 384, 62 strokes off the title pace of Palm Harbor University. Wiregrass Ranch was led by Heather Muse’s 82, which was the fourth best round of the event.
The Bulls competed Oct. 22 at Countryside Country Club for a shot at states. Results were not available by press time.
//Saddlebrook retains team title
Saddlebrook Prep claimed the Class 1A-District 9 boys golf championship for the second straight year.
Saddlebrook combined for a 298, besting second place Fivay by 45 at Crescent Oaks County Club in Tarpon Springs Oct. 15. The squad was paced by Jun Lee’s 71, which was good enough for the individual crown.
Wesley Chapel was unable to advance, shooting a 357 to take fifth place, but three Wildcats earned individual berths to regionals.
Turner Imhoff and Noah Fleck shot 81 and 85 to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, while Corey Mumaw advanced from a playoff after shooting an 89.
Saddlebrook hosts regionals Oct. 23 at 9 a.m.
//Freedom, Wharton advance
Freedom and Wharton finished second and third at the Class 2A-District 11 boys golf tournament Oct. 16 at Summerfield Crossings Golf Club in Riverview to earn a regional berth.
The Patriots turned in a 312, 23 off Newsome’s championship pace. The Wildcats shot a 321.
Freedom’s top two rounds came from 2011 individual district champion Jimmy Jones (75) and teammate Trevor Moore (76). Wharton was led by Jorge Junquera (75) and Ricky Condon (78).
Steinbrenner finished fifth, missing the playoffs for the first time in the program’s four-year history.
The Patriots and Wildcats competed at the regional tournament Oct. 22 at Cypress Run Golf Club in Palm Harbor. Results were not available by press time.
//CDS trio makes regionals
Carrollwood Day School (CDS) will have a trio of golfers in regionals.
Claudia Rami finished as the runner-up at the Class 1A-District 14 girls tournament at Emerald Greens Oct. 15, carding a 78. Fellow Patriots Austin Barkett and Kevin Park advanced out of the boys 1A-14 event at same course. The trio competed at regionals Oct. 22 at The Eagles Golf Club for a chance to play at states. Results were not available by press time.