Though homeschooled, Jimmy Stanger hardly finds himself immune to the effects of missed class time.
He fell behind last week while at Temple Terrace winning a district title, and missed another full day Monday at the Class 2A, Region 3 tournament. By this time next week, the homework stack could be taller than his putter.
It will be one blissful backlog.
A junior who competes for Gaither, Stanger’s 1-under 71, on a windy day at Stoneybrook West Golf Club in Winter Garden, was good enough for a third-place finish at the region tournament and an individual berth in next week’s 2A state tournament at Howey-in-the-Hills.
“In a way it’s kind of bittersweet to go to states because I’ve fallen behind homework-wise so many times,” Stanger said. “You know what, I’ll take it. I’ve never been to state before.”
The top two teams and top two finishers not on those teams earned state berths. Winter Garden West Orange (302) and Olympia (304) finished first and second. Plant, behind senior Zach Johnson’s 75, finished third — nine strokes behind Olympia.
Ridge Community freshman Sam Horsfield’s 3-under 69 won the tournament, but Stanger sneaked through — after an hour of waiting for the final results to be listed — because the runnerup was on one of the state qualifying teams.
He can thank his driver for keeping his season alive.
On a course of modest length and U.S. Open-type pin placements, Stanger three-putted on four greens but birdied his final two holes of the day, including the par-4 fourth (he started on No. 6) in which he drove the green.
It was one of two greens he drove. On his final hole, a par-5, he drove roughly 300 yards, hit an approach shot to the edge of a bunker and chipped over it to within 10 feet of the cup.
“My driver was big today,” he said. “It’s what saved me.”
Stanger’s team wasn’t quite as fortunate. The Cowboys, a surprising third at the District 9 tournament, shot 337 — two strokes behind King. Freshman Ajani Liggins led the Lions with 81.
Johnson four-putted a par-3 to open the day, but played the final 17 at 1 over. Teammate Brad White finished with 76.
A-5: Tigers coast to 10-stroke win
LARGO — For the past two years, Jesuit could only stare blankly at the scoreboard as some other team swooped in and took the final qualifying spot at regionals. This year, there was little anxiety.
Led by the consistent play of Joseph Trim (75), Brian Lanoue (79), Lucas Trim (80) and J.C. Cirella (81), the Tigers shot 315 and coasted to a 10-shot win over Northside Christian at the Class A, Region 5 tournament at Bardmoor Country Club. Jesuit, which lost out at regionals by three shots the past two years, will play in next week’s state tournament at Deer Island Golf and Lake Club in Tavares.
“These kids have earned it,’’ Jesuit coach George LaPenna said. “They’ve come this close in the last couple of years. I’m very excited for them.’’
Jesuit is certainly stacked with talent. LaPenna said there are at least six other players who are good enough to play in the regionals but didn’t make the team’s top five. He also said any of the top five can shoot the lowest score at any tournament. That was evident Monday.
“I bogeyed the first hole but I just had a feeling that it was going to happen today,’’ Trim said. “I was able to finish even on the front and then told myself to just have fun on the back and get the best score you can. I was able to fight back.’’
Tampa teams swept the tournament when Academy of Holy Names won on the girls side. AHN shot a team score of 342, led by 73 from Emmy Martin. Casey Pluchino shot 79. Northside Christian was second with a score of 346. The Mustangs’ Alyssa Cerino had a hole-in-one on the par-3, 118-yard fifth hole.
“It’s not the best I’ve done but it was consistent,’’ Martin said. “I had some birdies early but then my putting was not the best at the end because the greens were much faster.’’
The girls state tournament is at Harbor Hills Country Club in Lady Lake.
2A-4: Newsome prevails with depth
TARPON SPRINGS — Nothing came easily for Newsome at the Class 2A, Region 4 boys tournament. The Wentworth Golf Club course was unrelenting and unforgiving with little mercy shown for mistakes.
On top of that, there was a steady wind throughout the last nine holes. The challenging conditions showed in the scores. The Wolves’ No. 1 player, Brian Allen, shot 86 and was not among the top four on his team.
Nevertheless, Newsome showed off its depth, as well as its mental fortitude, to win the team title with 325. It is the first time the Wolves won a region title in Jim Govreau’s four seasons as coach. St. Petersburg was runnerup with 327.
“It was tough and we were not shooting well at the beginning,” Govreau said. “The wind was kicking up, and I didn’t know if we would have a chance. But I guess we were able to hit it straighter than everyone else.”
Newsome’s Colin Julian shot a team-low 77 and teammate Tyler Barich finished with 79. But it was the Wolves’ No. 5 golfer, Kyle West, who provided some breathing room by shooting 84.
“Kyle’s score was the difference between us being tied and winning,” Govreau said.
Durant’s Chase Levesque qualified as an individual with 76. The other individual qualifier was Mitchell’s Dylan Strout, who became the first boys player from his school to qualify for the state tournament by shooting 74, tied with St. Petersburg’s Jack Maguire atop the leaderboard.
2A-3: Senior Hendee leads Plant to title
At Winter Garden, Plant senior Laura Hendee shot 2-over 74 on a windy afternoon at Windermere Country Club to repeat as region champ and lift the Panthers to a second consecutive team title.
A University of Miami commitment, Hendee finished one stroke ahead of District 7 champion Madison Lellyo. Had her putter not betrayed her at times, the victory margin might have been much wider, Panthers coach Vernon Korhn said.
“I’ll be honest with you, she always feels there’s room for improvement,” said Korhn, who also watched Hendee win last week’s District 9 tournament.
“She read those greens about as well as anyone could read them. She was close on a bunch of them.”
Senior Kelsey Eisch and freshman Kayla Poff each shot 78 for the Panthers, whose 330 team score was 22 strokes better than runnerup Olympia. The top two teams, and top two individuals not on those teams, qualified for next week’s 2A state tournament in Howey-in-the-Hills.
Staff writers Rodney Page and Bob Putnam contributed to this report.