For a second consecutive year, the golf teams at St. Cloud High School reigned supreme at Orange Belt Conference Championships held at Royal St. Cloud Golf Course on Oct. 5-6.
The Bulldogs Boys’ team had all five of its golfers earn All-Conference honors and shot a team score of 318 on Oct. 6 to easily outdistance second-place Celebration (378) by 60 strokes. It was the second consecutive title for the St. Cloud boys. Harmony (393) was third; followed by Osceola (412).
The girls tournament, played a day earlier, saw St. Cloud defeat Harmony by 10 strokes (367-377) to win its fourth consecutive OBC crown. Celebration was a distant third at 446.
St. Cloud’s dominance could continue for at least a while longer. Head Coach Jim Endicott loses only one senior off the boys’ team and returns his top five players on the girls’ side.
“Could not be happier with the OBC results,” Endicott said. “The girls played well and if we can get a solid effort in districts we could advance as a team. The boys’ results were also solid but a little surprising. Eric Hernandez won the tournament out of our number five position and Chad Knollinger tied for second out of the number four hole.”
“The bottom line is we have five guys with the potential to shoot in the 70s and we have the advantage of having both districts and regionals at home this year. We are looking forward to those tournaments for both of our teams,” Endicott added.
In the boys’ tournament, Hernandez was somewhat of a surprise winner. The junior played spectacular all day, making three birdies and four bogies on the course that measured more than 6700 yards.
“My driver was really good today and when the putts started dropping I knew I had a chance,” Hernandez said.
St. Cloud also got a second place finish (tie) from Chad Knollinger (78), a fourth place from Austin Price (82), and a sixth from Gunner Greene (83). Eric’s brother Bryan Hernandez, St. Cloud’s top player who won the OBC Crown last year, struggled with his game but still managed to earn all-conference honors with a seventh place finish (87).
Poinciana’s Malachi Greene (78) tied Knollinger for second and Celebration’s Ethan Bodillo (84) rounded out the All-OBC team with a fifth place finish.
Individually, junior golfer Morgan Beaulieu was the big story in the girls’ tournament. Transferring to St. Cloud during the off-season from Tohopekaliga, Beaulieu won her third consecutive OBC crown in record fashion, touring the 5,261-yard, Par 72 course in an OBC and potential county record three-under 69.
Beaulieu, who placed 25th in the FHSAA state championships last year, was nearly flawless in her round – recording four birdies, 13 pars and just one bogey in her round. Her 69 was seven strokes better than her winning total of 76 a year ago. It was the lowest round ever shot in the OBC Girls’ Tournament and is believed to be a 18-hole county record for girls tournament play.
“It’s no secret, I knew that if I wanted to get better I had to work harder,” Beaulieu said after winning the tournament. “I basically spent all summer on the golf course and those efforts are starting to pay off.”
Despite setting an OBC tournament scoring record, the tournament was far from a walkover win for Beaulieu, however.
Poinciana junior Loa Johannson, playing her first season of high school golf, was just four shots behind with a one-over 73. Johannson made three bridies on the day but had four bogeys. Earlier this year in match at Celebration, Johannson shot a six-under 30 in a nine-hole match.
“She’s an excellent player,” Beaulieu said, “When you play in the same group with a great player like Loa it definitely helps keep you focused.”
St. Cloud’s Jenna Barnett took third with an 84; while Celebration’s Erin Ozyurek was fourth with an 89.
Harmony placed three golfers on the All-OBC Team as Alyson Nash (90), Jordan Pigeon (91) and Kathryne White (97) claimed the fifth thru seventh place finishes in the tournament to earn All-Conference honors.