LAND O’LAKES – Mitchell’s boys golf team entered Monday’s Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament with a 33-1 record over the last three seasons – and no conference titles to show for it.
“I didn’t want to go home empty again,” Mustangs coach Rick Hyatt said.
He didn’t. Mitchell’s top four golfers finished in the top seven and fired 307 to clinch the championship with a 16-stroke win over runnerup Fivay at Plantation Palms Golf Club.
The Mustangs won all 12 of their matches this year and added more 18-hole tournaments to their schedule to prepare for conference and district play. The results paid off.
“I guess it took me six years to figure out,” Hyatt said.
Dylan Strout led Mitchell with 2-over 74 to tie for second place with Hudson junior Mitchell Campbell. Loren Chateau (77) placed fifth, and freshmen Anthony Swinford and Donnie Gabrelcik both shot 78 to tie for sixth.
“It just thrills me …” Hyatt said before his team’s long-awaited celebration at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. “They play well beyond their years.”
Fivay senior and North Florida commit Austin Padova won the tournament with 4-under 68. His one-bogey round featured a chip shot on 18 that rolled to within 3 feet of the cup to save par.
Last year’s North Suncoast Player of the Year has won both 18-hole events he’s played this season and said he thinks he can compete for a top-three finish at state this year. He tied for 15th last fall.
“If I keep playing like I am now,” Padova said, “I think I’ll be good to go.”
Mike Stewart and Chris Dodson tied for eighth (79) to help River Ridge finish third at 338, seven strokes ahead of Pasco.
Pirates junior Austin Riddaugh (76) placed fourth. Wiregrass Ranch’s Luke Horrigan (80) was 10th.