The high school season ended on Monday afternoon for all Osceola County golfers, as no teams or individuals advanced past district play.
At the Class 3A District 7 tournament at Royal St. Cloud Golf Course, Vero Beach High School saw four of its five golfers break par to shoot a collective 12-under team score of 276 to easily defend its district championship.
Junior Cade Coffey, who won the District Tournament as sophomore, successfully defended his crown with a stellar round of seven under 65 over the 6,600-yard par 72 course. Coffey, who won the district title in a 2018 playoff, birdied three holes on the front side and also birdied 10, 12, 13 and 16 on the back side in shooting 33-32-65.
Cypress Creek’s Kaleb Palm was second at 67, Austin Cherichella of Lake Nona was third at 69, and Coffey’s teammates Carter Delili and James Hassel tied for fourth at two-under 70.
Vero Beach’s team score of 276 was 15 shots clear of second place Lake Nona’s four-under 291.
About the only drama on Monday came in the battle for third place. Only the top three teams in the district tournament advance to next week’s regional competition. Melbourne’s Nolan Popp – playing out of the number five spot – turned in an 87, three shots better than number four player Trey Whobley’s 90. Popp’s score reduced Melbourne’s team score from 323 to 320 and allowed them to edge Viera (321) for the third and final team spot to next week’s regional competition by a single shot.
In addition to the top three teams, the top three individuals on non-placing teams also advanced to regional competition. Those spots were claimed by Palm (67), Viera’s Sam Karman (74) and Timber Creek’s Alex Ramos (76).
The top Osceola County finisher was Harmony’s Austin Price, who shot a 9-over 81. He finished five shots behind Ramos for a chance to compete in a playoff for the final individual spot.
St. Cloud High School had the highest team placement among Osceola County teams in the District Tournament, claiming sixth place at 365. Bryan Fernandez (85), Chad Knollinger (88), Jacob Ernst (95) and Dylan Montaya (97) posted counting scores for the Bulldogs.
“I knew from the competition that it would be tough to advance out of districts,” St. Cloud Swing Coach Jim Endicott said. “Head Coach Jeff Johnson and I talked about it before the tournament and felt we would need two rounds in the 70s and two rounds in the 80s and that’s pretty much what it would have taken to advance. On the bright side, last year at districts we only had one player break 100. This year we had four. Our top seven players are underclassmen and if they continue to improve at the same rate they did this year, we should field an extremely competitive team next fall.”
In addition to St. Cloud’s sixth place finish, Harmony placed seventh at 433, and Tohopekaliga was eighth at 440 in the ten-team field. At the District 6 Tournament at Eaglebrooke Golf Club in Lakeland, Celebration and Osceola failed to advance at either the team or individual level. Overall, the level of play at the District 7 Tournament was impressive. Twelve golfers broke par on the day and the top two teams finished a combined 16 under.
“There were some really great scores shot today on both the team and individual level,” Endicott said. “Vero Beach should absolutely be a contender for a regional championship, if not a state title. When you consider that their second best golfer had an off-day, still shot 75 and his score did not even count in the team total, it is really impressive.”