LARGO — After losing its top five golfers from a year ago, including current college players A.J. Newell (Tennessee), Michelle Butler (Missouri) and Danielle Grace (Lipscomb), the Northside Christian girls team knew it would be near impossible to duplicate its recent success.
The Mustangs have finished second at the Class A state tournament the previous two seasons and have been a regular atop the district and region tournament leaderboards for even longer.
But even in a rebuilding year, Northside had little trouble capturing the Bay Conference Championship Tuesday at Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club.
In what was essentially a head-to-head match with Indian Rocks Christian, the only other Bay Conference side to field a complete team, the Mustangs won their eighth straight girls title with a 347 team score, 55 strokes better than the Golden Eagles.
The Mustangs, made up of seventh- and eighth-graders, received scores in the 80s from Sarah Noto (86), Ryanne Jackson (85) and Alyssa Serino, who finished as individual champion after firing 11-over-par 83.
“I was hitting my irons okay today, and my putting was good,” said Serino, who made birdie on the par-3 No. 13.
Another seventh-grader, Ashley Zagers, shot 93 to round out the Mustangs’ team score.
“We have some years to go,” Serino said. “Our coach tells us we’re doing very well for our age.”
Serino, Jackson, Noto, Zagers and Bradenton Christian’s Olivia Cecil (95) finished in the top five in that order to make the all-conference team.
In the boys competition, Bradenton Christian defended its title after recording a team score of 322 and defeating Northside Christian and Shorecrest by six strokes. The Mustangs and the Chargers tied for second overall.
Bradenton Christian’s Philip Knowles and Jordan Miller each fired 1-over 73. They shared the individual medalist title.
Shorecrest freshman Andrew Heric had the lowest round of any local golfer after coming into the clubhouse at 2-over 74.
“I was 1 under through six holes so I was feeling pretty good,” Heric said. “I made a couple bogeys after that though and I was hoping to just shoot close to par. I feel pretty good about my score today.”
Shorecrest also got solid scores from Karim Oliver (80), Justin Jacobson (86) and Timmy Murphy (88).
Northside was paced by a pair of 79s by Chris Keller and Troy Hicks. Anthony Quintessenza fired 82 and Jasen Norris shot 88 for the Mustangs’ top four.
Finishing in the top 10 and earning a spot on the All-Bay Conference tournament team for the boys: Knowles, Miller, Heric, Connor Campbell (Indian Rocks), Keller, Hicks, Justin Wren (Keswick), Oliver, Quintessenza and Harrison McClimans (Calvary Christian).