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Golf preview: Bulldogs, Longhorns should set the pace this year

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017 at 3:16 pm

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
Defending champion Harmony and St. Cloud appear to be the teams to beat for both boys and girls competitions at the Orange Belt Conference meet next month at St. Cloud.

Harmony
The Lady Longhorns have dominated conference competition for the past several years under Coach Robert Hainlen.
Even though the squad lost several talented players to graduation, Harmony should again be the team to beat in the Orange Belt Conference.
“We are definitely in a growing season. I have six returners, and three new,” he said.
Leading the way is Morgan Wolf along with captain Caitlin Greiner.
“We have been growing in confidence since our original nine-hole qualifier. We had three matches the next week in which the ladies were able to drop 22 strokes off the team score,” he said.
Harmony is in a very difficult district (3A-16) with St. Cloud, Viera, Vero Beach and Melbourne.
“As far as OBCs go, I think we will be well positioned to finish strongly,” he said. “The district matchup will be another struggle, but I think we will be solid as a team since both events are hosted at Royal St. Cloud (Golf Club),” he said.
The Longhorns, under Coach Mark Bhabha, are strong enough to challenge for a berth at the state tournament.
“The team has been very dedicated and supportive of each other,” he said. “We just need to take things one day at a time in order to give us a chance to reach our goal of making states as a team.”
The Longhorns posted impressive early-season wins over Melbourne, 145-188, and Osceola, 148-243.
The team’s top players are Brock Barber, Evan Taylor, Kevin Carr, Carson Sampl and Conlan Micher, all capable of consistently shooting in the mid-30s for nine holes. All broke 40 against Osceola.
St. Cloud
The Lady Bulldogs, under Coach Jim Endicott, the director of instruction at Royal St. Cloud Academy, have a talented but young team, said the coach.
“We return four varsity players from last year. We are still a young team with no seniors and the top four include two juniors and two sophomores,” he said.
Taylar Ling was all-OBC last year as a sophomore. Kierstyn Kelly and Brandi Bigeau, sophomores, both played on the regional qualifier last season, and junior Allison Hilton, a returning junior, showed promise early in the season, Endicott said.
The boys squad is deep and talented with returning two-time all-OBC player Noah Endicott and all-OBC Jacob Johnson returning for their senior seasons.
Another senior, Tyler Shelton, is a regional qualifier, like Endicott and Johnson.
Newcomer Mason Miller, a junior, shows promise, said Coach Endicott, and is a potential top four player.
Celebration
The team’s new girls coach, Bob Muzeka, has been teaching county golfers for three decades.
But, he said, he is building from scratch at Celebration.
“All I have is three freshmen now,” he said.
They are Leilani Swider, Christie Beegan and Annika Brooks.
Muzeka said many talented young golfers are coming up through the youth programs he established at the county’s elementary schools, but they are still in middle and elementary school.
The boys team, under Mike Prevost, was hit hard by graduation after reaching the regionals the past two seasons. The team lost four seniors.
He said the Storm should remain competitive.
“The team has improved scores and the leaders have stepped up in our early matches,” he said. “We are looking to see how the team stacks up to the OBC and district competition.”
The roster includes senior captain Nick Morgan, juniors Drake Reiche and Sam Cundiff, sophomore Owen Ingram and freshmen David Warner and Greyson Labiad.
Junior Crash Ferrell missed the early part of the season with an injury.
Also on the squad are sophomores Jace Wilken, Parker Adams and Kevin Swamy, and freshman Matt Coakley.
The Storm compete in District 3A-8 with Osceola, Gateway, Cypress Creek, East River, Lake Nona and Oak Ridge.
Liberty
Coach Susan Bagley’s girls team should be improved because several of her golfers were first-year players last year.
“We should have a better season as we had three first-year golfers,” she said.
One of two seniors on the team, Samira Beason, will play No. 1 for the Lady Chargers. Freshman Katie White will play No. 2 and Mohera Beason, a sophomore, is at No. 3. Senior Mya Fanietty and junior Michelle Garcia will vie for the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, said the coach.
Osceola
The Osceola golf program gets a new look under coaches Matt DeLorenzo and Javier Rivera.
Rivera is a former professional in Puerto Rico.
“We are looking to build the program to match the success of our other athletic teams at Osceola,” DeLorenzo said.
Competing for the Lady Kowboys are Audra Thompson, Allissa Patrick, Jacklyn Dougherty, Kara Jones, Madison Woodard and Monica Olivera.
The boys team features Jeremy McCleery, Darren McCleery, Emmanuel Beato, Gbriel Gonzalez, William Kossol, Rufino Quinones, Ryan Andrews and Drake Evans.
Gateway
Coach Larry Brutus leads both Panthers squads.
Returning to the boys roster are senior Arthur Hans and junior Nicholas Bonilla. Christian Jacobs, a senior, begins his first season.
The Lady Panthers are led by returners Damaris Rojas, a junior, and sophomore Vimalys Rivera. Joining are senior Megan Brown, sophomore Erica Ledesma and freshman Kaitlyn Cordoza.