By Jeff Odom
Freedom girls golfer Terese Romeo fought through pain in her surgically repaired right wrist to shoot a pair of 79s to finish tied for 11th at the Class 2A tournament Oct. 30 and 31.
Adding to the sophomore’s challenge were windy conditions at Harbor Hills Golf Club in Lady Lake, and Romeo was playing back-to-back days for the first time in more than a year because of the wrist surgeries.
Despite being visibly upset with her play at the event, she felt it was a building block for next season.
“It was different; definitely a test of my endurance and my mental capacity,” Romeo said. “I definitely need some work, but I think it was a good start.”
On Day 2, the Patriots’ lone representative at states played well early, but struggled on the back nine.
She tossed her golf club in frustration after missing a pair of putts on the 15th hole. Freedom coach Rich Simard pulled her aside before the 16th, telling her to stay calm.
“With Terese, she’s a fighter; she fights to the end, and she never gives up even when things really aren’t going very well,” Simard said. “I told her to fight to the end and to play each hole one at time and play those (last) three holes, and she finished strong.”
Romeo battled back and said she was satisfied with the result.
“I take my round three holes at a time, and I just told myself, ‘Okay, this is just three holes,’” Romeo said. “Coach just told me to kind of stay down and relax and to have fun. That’s really what I was out there for.”
As for Steinbrenner, the only area girls team that advanced to states, no member could manage to break 80 on either day as the Warriors finished 14th overall with 733 total score.
Sophomore Claire Becker led Steinbrenner with an 84 and an 88 to finish with 172 and sophomore Kelsy Holbert had the team’s best score on Day 2 (84) to finish with 177.
“(In the first round) I couldn’t really figure out what I was doing wrong, and then this morning on the range I worked it out,” Holbert said. “I was just going to have fun and try not to get mad and play better, but it was a great experience.”
Warriors coach Mark Mann said it was good to reach the goals he laid out before the season, but he knows his squad will want even more next year.
“It’s a great accomplishment just for the girls to get here,” Mann said. “I kind of put it in perspective and told them how many other teams would like to trade spots with us right now and be able to be one of the final 16 teams. I’m sure they’re disappointed in their showing, but it’s the first time they’ve been here. … I was proud of them. They played well.”
Stanger takes third in Class 2A
By Kyle LoJacono
Gaither’s lone representative at the Class 2A state boys golf tournament Jimmy Stanger finished 1-over-par to place third overall at Deer Island Country Club in Tavares Oct. 30 and 31.
The senior and University of Virginia commit shot a 74 on Day 1 and followed with a 71 to post a 145, four strokes off the championship pace of St. Petersburg’s John MaGuire and two behind Plant’s Brad White.
“I went in looking for nothing less than a win, but finishing in the top three isn’t something I’m upset about,” Stanger said. “There were some pretty darn good scores put up.”
Stanger said the temperature when he started on Day 1 was 45 degrees and the wind was 30 to 35 mph throughout the event. That, mixed with knowing it was the final event of his senior year, added to the anxiety.
“I wish I could say I was just focusing on my game,” Stanger said. “You want your last round to be your best. I had no idea where I stood on the last day. I thought my second day score might be good enough, but John and Brad played great too.”
Stanger finished tied for 28th by shooting a 15-over 159 at the same event last year in his first trip to states. Stanger earned individual district and regional championships this season en route to his performance at the 2A tournament.
“Senior year was harder than I expected just because I felt like everyone expected a lot out of me, and I expect a lot out of me too,” Stanger said. “There was a lot of pressure, but it’s been a great blessing, and I’ve loved this year.”
Stanger, who averaged a 1-under 35 for nine-hole rounds this season, also thanked Cowboys coach Dwayne Olinger, who became Gaither’s coach during his freshman season.
“He’s been great,” Stanger said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coach, and he’s a big reason why I’ve made states the last two years.”
Saddlebrook Prep claims sixth
The Saddlebrook Prep boys golf team finished sixth overall at the Class 1A state tournament at Mission Inn & Club at Howey-in-the-Hills Oct. 30 and 31.
Saddlebrook shot a two-day total of 648, 43 behind first-place Plantation American Heritage. The Spartans were led by freshman Ryoto Furuya’s two-day 159 and eighth-grader Won Jun Lee’s 160.
CDS’ Rami finishes tied for 21st
Carrollwood Day School (CDS) sophomore girls golfer Claudia Rami shot a two-day total of 158 to finish tied for 21st at the Class 1A state tournament at Mission Inn & Club at Howey-in-the-Hills Oct. 30 and 31.
Rami was 13 strokes behind tournament champion Windermere Prep’s Simin Feng. Academy at the Lakes senior Mallory Etcheberry, a University of Akron commit, shot a 161 to tie for 29th, while Bishop McLaughlin freshman Brooke Dalton carded a 199 to place 78th.