If one thing has been learned over time — simply qualifying for Florida’s high school state golf championship tournament is an accomplishment in itself.
It’s an opportunity this year reserved for a combined 45 boys teams and 45 girls teams across three classifications. Including individual qualifiers, fewer than 300 boys and golfers apiece — among the countless thousands of prep golfers — were able to showcase their skills and lay claim among the state’s elite.
Within those numbers were two teams and another four individuals from The Laker/Lutz News coverage area.
The 2020 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) state golf championships ran from Oct. 27 through Nov. 4, at Mission Inn Resort & Club, in Howey-in-the-Hills. Boys competed at the Lake County resort’s 6,764-yard El Campeon Course, while girls played the 5,455-yard Las Colinas Course.
Perhaps the most noteworthy showing came from the Steinbrenner High varsity girls team— as it marked its ninth straight year the program has qualified for states as a team.
Coached by John Crumbley, the Warriors finished 10th out of 13 schools in the two-day Class 3A tournament.
They were paced by sophomore Kavya Ajjarapu, who carded an 8-over par across two rounds (70-78 — 158) to finish tied for 12th out of 78 golfers.
It marked the end to an impressive season for Ajjarapu, who also took home a 3A-9 district crown after shooting a 2-under 69 at TPC Tampa Bay back in early October.
Other Steinbrenner golfers were McKenzie Kane (+11), Posie Farrelly (+11), Zoe Spanos (+70) and Paige Maginness (+121).
The 3A match also experienced solid individual performances from Sunlake High freshman Alyssa Mixon and Wiregrass Ranch High senior Norah Catlin. Both tied for 32nd, shooting 14 strokes above par across the 36 holes.
For Catlin, it marked her fourth straight state title appearance, going down as the most decorated female golfer in her school’s history. She’s also a three-time Pasco County Sunshine Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
In 2A, Cypress Creek boasted a pair of individual qualifiers in sophomore Tiffany Colin and freshman Connor Newbold.
Colin went 14 over par to finish 16th among 95 girls golfers. She was key to her team during a banner season — helping the Coyotes finish with a 5-0 regular season mark and runner-up in the Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament.
Newbold logged a 14 over par to finish 29th out of 97 boys golfers. He also was integral as the No. 1 golfer on the Coyotes boys team, which reached the 2A-2 region tournament at Dubsdread Golf Course in Orlando.
Meanwhile, in the 1A ranks, the Carrollwood Day School varsity girls team made its first state appearance in program history.
The Patriots — who placed 14th — were pushed by seventh-grader Sophia Dyer, who finished 31st overall after posting an 11 over par (77-78 — 155).
Dyer comes from a something of a legacy golf family. Her older brother, Blake, is a former standout on the University of Florida men’s golf team who also finished runner-up at the 2016 Florida State Amateur. Her father, Kevin, lettered for the Florida Gators from 1984-1988 and was on the 1985 SEC Championship team.
Other Carrollwood Day golfers included Elyse Meerdink (+16), Olivia Hasselbach (+76) Mikaela Arey (+97) and Paige Bhuniak (+149).
By comparison, last year’s state tournament saw one team and another six individual qualifiers from our coverage area.
No local schools or individuals
Alyssa Mixon, Sunlake (tied 32nd) 78-80 — 158
Norah Catlin, Wiregrass Ranch (tied 32nd) 80-78 — 158
Steinbrenner (10th place) 338-334 — 672
Kavya Ajjarapu (tied 12th) 70-78 — 148
McKenzie Kane (tied 24th) 80-75 — 155
Posie Farrelly (tied 24th) 72-83 — 155
Zoe Spanos (tied 75th) 104-110 — 214
Paige Maginness, (77th) 117-148 — 265
Connor Newbold, Cypress Creek (29th) 80-78 — 158
Individual qualifier (s)
Tiffany Colin, Cypress Creek (16th ) 80-78 — 158
No local schools or individuals
Carrollwood Day (14th place) 366-358 — 724
Sophia Dyer (31st) 77-78 — 155
Elyse Meerdink (tied 40th) 82-78 — 160
Olivia Hasselbach (56th) 89-79 — 168
Mikaela Arey (94th) 117-124 — 241
Paige Bhuniak (95th) 145-148 — 293
Published November 25, 2020