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TEMPLE TERRACE — Brilliance may have avoided Jimmy Stanger on a warm, partly cloudy morning at Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club, but savviness and survival instincts didn’t.
On a day when he didn’t set the fairways ablaze, the homeschooled Gaither senior still set the standard for the 11-team field at the Class 2A, District 9 tournament. Stanger’s even-par 72, the day’s best by five strokes, gave the University of Virginia commitment his second consecutive district crown.
“Nothing incredible today,” said Stanger, who shot 3-under 69 on the same course in the 2011 tourney. “I was not hitting my irons, but I think I hit every single fairway. And then my putting was very solid aside from a 2-footer that I missed on (No.) 6.”
Equally successful — without being stellar — was reigning team champion Plant, which defended its title with a 315 team score, 16 shots better than runnerup King.
The Lions were led by sophomore Ajani Liggins’ 78. Hillsborough, behind senior William Clarke’s 78, finished third (341).
The top three teams, and top three individuals not on those teams, qualified for next Monday’s Region 3 tournament, also to be staged at Temple Terrace.
With his 88-year-old grandfather, Raymond Stanger, watching, Stanger hit a 3-wood roughly 260 yards to within 15 feet on the 525-yard, par-5 No. 5. His eagle putt lipped out, and he missed a 2-foot putt on the par-4 sixth for bogey, but remained even at the turn.
He birdied the par-5 10th, watching another eagle putt lip out, and shot 1 over the rest of the round.
“I just had some really, really good approach shots,” Stanger said.
Plant, which averaged 151 over nine holes in the regular season, had three players — seniors Ryan Gendron and Brad White and sophomore Patrick Mills — eclipse 80. Gendron’s 77 led the Panthers.
“Most of our guys struggled on the last four or five holes, and that’s the whole golf course out here,” Panthers coach Mike Stevens said.
LIONS GIRLS END PANTHER REIGN: At Temple Terrace, King ended Plant’s decade-long run of district dominance, getting 81 from junior medalist Steffi Yo.
Yo, an International Baccalaureate student, overcame nerves and 7-over 43 on the front nine with 38 on the back to coast to the individual crown. The Lions, who had no seniors among their top five, finished with a four-player total of 384.
Plant, decimated by graduation and transfers, was second (408), followed by Hillsborough (469).
A-14: Joseph Trim's hole-in-one is Tigers' spark
TAMPA — The ball came off the 3-wood and Joseph Trim immediately knew something special was going to happen.
Trim wasn’t the only one.
As the ball sailed through the air, even members of his group reflexively forget about their own allegiances. “Get in that hole,” Trim overheard a player from Berkeley Prep say.
It did, slamming into the flag stick with such force that people from hundreds of yards away could hear it. Trim’s hole-in-one on the par-3 No. 3 lifted him to a first-place finish and Jesuit to a fourth straight district title Monday at Emerald Greens.
“It just kick-started my day,” Trim said. “It really elevated me.”
The Tigers finished with 306 to win the boys A-14 district crown, followed by Tampa Catholic with 312 and Berkeley Prep with 319. Those teams move on to regionals Oct. 23 at the Eagles.
Trim, Jesuit’s No. 4 player, had one of his best days of the year in emerging as the day’s top scorer at 73. Greyson Porter of Berkeley Prep was second at 74 and Lucas Trim, Joseph’s older brother, prevailed in a three-person playoff to finish third.
In the girls tournament, Academy of Holy Names cruised to the championship with 318. Berkeley Prep finished a distant second with 425 and Tampa Prep was third with 444.
Holy Names junior Emmy Martin, who won district and region titles last year, is halfway to achieving that championship double again after winning Monday with 72.
“This was probably one of my best days,” Martin said. “But I’ve got bigger goals. I’ve been to the state tournament in the last (two) years.”
Claudia Rami of Carrollwood Day was second with 78 and Holy Names’ Casey Pluchino rounded out the region qualifiers with 79.
For Jesuit coach George LaPenna, who has won a district title every year since becoming head coach in 2009, Monday was merely another step en route to his goal of winning the Tigers’ first state championship since 1973.
In fact, Jesuit is poised to make a deep run. LaPenna has more than 25 golfers in his program, and a roster so deep that his No. 4 golfer (Joseph Trim) could beat out his top three golfers in district competition and a team that can survive without usual No. 5 golfer, Alec Orosco, who’s probably out the rest of the year with an injury.
“Four years ago this would have been a big deal for them,” La Penna said. “But the standards have been raised a bit.”
2A-10: Warriors girls keep streak alive
PLANT CITY — The Steinbrenner girls continued their unbeaten season and string of region appearances since the program began in 2009 by winning the Class 2A, District 10 tournament at Walden Lake Country Club.
The Warriors were led by sophomore Claire Becker who shot 78, to finish second in the individual standings. Becker and sophomores Kelsey Holbert (82) and Kayla Poff (88) scored in the 80s and finished among the top seven individuals. Junior Brooke Deal and sophomore Hanna Crosby shot 90 and helped whittle their team score to 338, easily outdistancing second-place Plant City (375).
“For the conditions and the course, that’s a very good score for us,” Warriors coach Mark Mann said. “These girls take pride in winning; they don’t like to lose.”
Individual honors went to Freedom sophomore Terese Romeo, who was just two strokes ahead of Becker on the front nine. Romeo hit her stride on the back nine, which she had never played before. She birdied the 14th and 15th holes, pushing her lead to four. Romeo finished with 75 and the championship.
Plant City and Freedom (382) qualified for next week’s regionals. Newsome sophomore Meghna Patel (81) and Durant sophomore Krista Reinhardt (87), who shot a personal best, qualified as individuals.
Staff writer Joel Anderson and correspondent Andy Warrener contributed to this report.