County teams to tee off in districts
Horns win OBC girls, Storm 1st for boys
By J. Daniel Pearson
For the News-Gazette
Celebration posted a come-from-behind win over Harmony’s boys in the Orange Belt Conference Championships Monday at Royal St. Cloud Golf Club.
At Harmony Golf Preserve, the Harmony girls, as expected, easily won their second straight OBC title.
Players from seven Osceola County high schools will compete Monday and Tuesday at four boys and girls district tournaments, the first step on the path to the state tournaments in early November.
Celebration’s boys posted a team score of 314, finishing ahead of defending OBC champion Harmony (323) by nine shots. Depth proved to be the difference for the Storm as they had four golfers post scores of 83 or better. That was more than enough to erase Harmony’s advantage at the top, as Cory Herman took medalist honors with an even-par 72 while teammate and defending OBC Champion Tyler Bennett tied Celebration’s Grafton Mouen for second place at 74.
“Obviously, I think we are excited to finally win the team championship,” Storm Head Coach Tony Brus said. “But looking at our individual scores, I think we know we can shoot a lot better. I honestly thought we had a good chance to post four scores in the 70s. Not sure whether it was a case of the nerves or whether the weather delay got to us, but I know this team can play a lot better than we did. Still it was a great team win and now we can look forward to district competition Monday.”
Playing out of the number one position, Storm sophomore Ben Sedwick managed a 9-over 81. Sophomore Ryan Johnson added a 76, but Celebration found itself down by 11 shots to Harmony after the first two groups posted their scores. Storm junior Luke O’Connell’s 83 cut the deficit to seven before Mouen’s 74 out of the number four position put it away for the Storm.
Although Bennett and Herman were a combined 2-over for the tournament, the Longhorns also counted Parke Novak’s 87 and Gavin Fox’s 90 to finish at 323.
Senior Angelo Chiarelli tied Johnson in fourth place with a 76 to lead Osceola High School to third-place team finish at 349. The Kowboys also got an all-conference performance from Lawson Rafe, who finished in sixth place with an 80.
St. Cloud (359), Poinciana (435) and Liberty (471) rounded out the team scores. Gateway did not post a team score.
Herman, Bennett and Mouen battled down the wire for medalist honors in an event that was delayed mid-round for 45 minutes by a heavy downpour. Mouen got off to an extremely fast start, pouring in three birdies early to card a 3-under 33 on the front side but faded with four bogeys on the back.
“I really had it going early but the rain got to me,” Mouen said. “We were only on the 12th hole when it started pouring and my grips and all my gloves were soaked. I just couldn’t seem to get back on track after the rain.”
Herman was thrilled to bring home the medalist trophy.
“This was a special day for me and it means a lot to win the conference championship as a senior,” Herman said. “Tyler and I have had a friendly battle all season for the top position on the team. To win OBCs in my final year feels awesome.”
Both Bennett and Herman work at Royal St. Cloud.
“We play here practically every day so it certainly helped because we know the distances by heart,” Herman added. “But with the wind, the conditions were not real easy out there. I think all the top players here probably felt they should have scored a little better.”
Harmony boys coach Jerry Piester said his team wasn’t quite good enough.
“Our Nos. 1 and 2 played well, just didn’t have the scores to follow them up,” he said.
Herman, Bennett, Mouen, Chiarelli, Johnson, Lawson and Sedwick are the all-conference team members (top seven).
There was little drama at the girls tournament Monday, where Harmony (347) easily outdistanced Osceola (416), Liberty (462), St. Cloud (476) and Celebration (485). Poinciana and Gateway did not have team scores.
“They had a really great day, which has been our game this season,” Horns Coach Robert Hainlen said.
Harmony’s Madison Wetzell (75) was the medalist, edging Liberty’s Alice Munn (77). Harmony’s Tia Lindsey (83), Osceola’s Meg Clancy (92), Harmony’s Christine Stevens (93) and Brooke Wetzel (96) and Osceola’s Brittney Calhoun (102) made the all-conference team.
Osceola Coach Ray Lackey said his team played well to finish second.
“The top three played well. Some of our players need to do some work to lower their scores, but they played pretty well, all things considered. If the team pulls together and scores close to (OBCs), we should be able to go on (at the district tournament),” he said.
The district events are scattered around Central Florida Monday and Tuesday.
Harmony’s and St. Cloud’s boys will return to Royal St. Cloud Monday at 10 a.m. for the 3A-16 meet, which includes teams from the east coast. Celebration, Osceola and Gateway go to Eagle Creek, near Lake Nona, for the 3A-8 tourney Monday at 8:30 a.m., against Orange County competition. Liberty goes to Eagle Brooke in Polk County Tuesday at 10 a.m., and Poinciana goes to Orlando’s Dubsdread Monday at 8 a.m. for the 2A-10 tournament.
Brus expects the Storm to play well at Eagle Creek.
“I think winning the OBC might light a fire under them,” he said.
Piester said his team must play better to advance from 3A-16.
“If we score like we should it will be close. We can’t shoot 323 and make it in this district. I think 310 will get us in,” he said.
The girls 3A-16 tournament is Monday at 9 a.m. at Viera’s Duran Country Club. The 3A-9 tourney is at 10 at Bartow, and the 2A-10 tournament is at Dubsdread at 9:30. The 3A-8 tourney is Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at Eagle Creek.
“Districts are going to be rough,” Harmony’s Coach Hainlen said. “We are very well matched with Viera and Vero Beach. We will need to be on our game and one or both of the others have a rough day. I firmly believe we will be in the regionals being held at Royal St. Cloud.”
The top three teams and top three individuals not on those teams advance to the regionals Oct. 21-22.