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WESLEY CHAPEL — Some time eight months from now, while Alan Black sits on his porch with his feet propped up, surveying his 3-acre plot from his vantage point on what he says is the highest locale in Murray County, Tenn., the veteran golf coach will have time to reflect on his final season coaching the game, the one where his Wesley Chapel boys won their coach his only region title and advanced to the state tournament as a team for the first time in Wesley Chapel’s 12-year history.
But not yet. Right now, he’s having too much fun enjoying his swan song.
Black will retire after this season as Wesley Chapel’s only golf coach, having started the program when the school opened in 1999 following nine seasons coaching boys golf at Land O’Lakes and two more at Pasco.
He’ll give up his job as a driver’s education teacher at Wesley Chapel and move to a plot of land he purchased just south of Nashville to be closer to his two daughters — one lives close by in Tennessee, the other in upstate New York — and four grandchildren.
He sold his home in San Antonio in September and is awaiting the completion of his Tennessee home this summer.
In the meantime, he’ll guide a surprising Wesley Chapel team into Tuesday and Wednesday’s two-round Class A state final at the Country Club at Silver Springs Shores in Ocala. The Wildcats came in 13 strokes behind Saddlebrook to finish third at districts before beating the Spartans in a playoff to win regionals and make it to state.
“It’s worked out great. I’ve been blessed,” Black said. “Eleven years working in a meat plant, and that was 30 years ago, and here I am going to state with golfers doing the thing that I love.”
In Black’s 23 years coaching high school golf, none of his teams qualified for state. He had a golfer at Land O’Lakes make it, and, in 2004, Wesley Chapel’s Cameron Knight went 8-under to win the Class 2A individual title.
Never the collective group, though
The 2010 Wildcats, a team of four seniors — Jacob Fleck, Brandon Mumaw, Matt Wynne and J.J. Amerman and freshman Noah Fleck — wanted to send their beloved coach out on a winning note.
“All year our whole plan was to win something big for Coach Black because we knew it was his last year,” Mumaw said. “He’s really the best coach you can have. He’s always there instructing us at practice, helping us with our golf. He treats us nice. He’s a friendly guy.
“He makes us more of a team by spending time with us and talking to us about stuff other than just golf. I play baseball and I can sit down with him and just talk about baseball.”
The feeling’s mutual for Black, who says he’ll miss the one-on-one time with the golfers, the coaching and the camaraderie.
And Black, a former collegiate golfer and basketball coach, is enjoying his final year so much that he might have an encore or two left in him.
“There must be 40 high schools in a little radius around Nashville,” he said. “It might be a nice little part-time gig, if I feel like it and the opportunity’s there, I might pick right back up where I left off when I get up there.”
Class A boys
At Silver Springs Shores, The Country Club, Ocala
Fivay’s Austin Padova, Jr.: Padova, who made it to state last season at Ridgewood, became the Falcons’ first state qualifier in school history after firing 1-under-par 71 to place second at regionals.
Saddlebrook: Seniors — Wanguemert Torrent, Alex Bensahel and Adam Chowdhari, sophomore Justin Bell and freshman Daniel Hori make up a remarkably consistent Saddlebrook starting five. The Spartans had four players shoot 82 or lower at districts and had three scores in the 70s at regionals. Leading the way is Torrent, who had Saddlebrook’s top score at districts (79) and regionals (78, tied with Chowdhari).
Wesley Chapel: The Wildcats were finished third at districts before beating Saddlebrook in a playoff to win regionals.
Class A girls
At Ocala Golf Club
Saddlebrook’s Lauren Riehle, Jr.: Consistent performer making her first state appearance after shooting 77 to win districts by nine strokes and following with 78 at regionals to come in second.
Class 2A girls
At Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club, Ocala
Springstead’s Megan Berube, So.: Qualified by shooting 69 at districts to win by six strokes and was second overall at regionals with 74.