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SADDLEBROOK — Leading up to Tuesday’s Class A, Region 3 tournament at Saddlebrook Golf and Country Club, every program that made the field was gunning for the host team .
Saddlebrook had run away with the district crown, with none of its five players shooting over 80.
The Spartans had the same kind of success at regionals, totaling only nine strokes fewer than last week with 307 on what most of the competitors said was a tough day for scoring on the course.
Crystal River (311) gave the Spartans a run and qualified for the state tournament at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills next week as well.
With two at-large bids at stake, Nature Coast’s Jake Arnett and Fivay’s Nick Piro both carded rounds of 77 and found themselves battling for the final spot in the state field.
Arnett, the A-8 district champion, was attempting to become the first Hernando County state qualifier since Hernando’s Fred Farmer in 2000, but his double bogey in the playoff gave Piro the opening he needed.
The Falcons senior will join Ocala-Trinity Catholic sophomore Christian Anderson at state. Anderson is making his second trip after finishing third at regionals last year.
Notable North Suncoast contenders who fell just short Tuesday included Wesley Chapel’s Turner Imhoff (88), Noah Fleck (92) and Corey Mumaw (100), Pasco’s Austin Riddaugh (99), Weeki Wachee’s Michael Rampino (99), and Hernando’s Cody Montgomery (88).
2A-2: Area players shut out of state
At Ocala in the Class 2A, Region 2 tournament, Springstead’s Megan Berube shot 75, but was three strokes from qualifying for state .
The Eagles also failed to claim one of the region’s two state tournament bids, as the team fired an aggregate score of 363. Central’s Stephanie Rodney, a co-medalist at last week’s 2A-5 district meet, fired 87 and also failed to move on.
Richard Burton, Times correspondent