MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Golfer of the Year: Jimmy Stanger, Jr., Gaither
Why we picked him: Aside from a sluggish state tournament effort, Stanger was the most consistent golfer around. The Class 2A, District 9 individual champ (by five strokes), he posted a 36 average for nine-hole events, which dips to 35.8 when you toss in the 18-hole events before state. A week after his 3-under 69 at the district tourney at Temple Terrace, he shot 1-under 71 on a windy day in Winter Garden to place third at the Region 3 tournament and earn an individual state berth. Even his 36-hole effort at state, mediocre by his standards (15-over 159), was good enough for a top-30 finish.
Proudest accomplishment: Though home-schooled, Stanger embraces the team format of prep golf. He pointed to the district tournament as his best day of the season, when the No. 6-seeded Cowboys placed third and earned a region berth. “We were not supposed to make it (to regionals) and that was fantastic.”
Future plans: A year-round player, Stanger has a series of American Junior Golf Association events on his slate. He is ranked No. 5 in the state among 11th-grade boys by Golfweek.
Did you know? The day of the Times’ photo shoot coincided with the three-year anniversary of the death of Stanger’s best friend, Harris Armstrong. Harris, who played with Stanger at Berean Academy, died of spinal cord cancer. Stanger has dedicated his prep and college seasons to him. …The third of four children, Stanger also plays piano and is proficient in Christian contemporary music.
Coach of the Year
Jim Govreau, Newsome: Govreau guided the Wolves to the best season in program history, by a par 5. The Wolves won Class 2A district and region crowns, and placed third at the state tournament.
Brian Allen, Jr., Newsome: Steadiest player for team that placed third at state
Tyler Bakich, Fr., Newsome: Wolves rookie was district runnerup, tied for 22nd at state
Jimmy Jones, So., Freedom: Won 2A, District 10 title by three strokes in miserable weather
Brian Lanoue, Sr., Jesuit: A-14 district champ had county’s top score (149) at state
Chase Levesque, So., Durant: Qualified for 2A state tourney with third-place region effort
Ryan Gendron, Jr., Plant
Zach Johnson, Sr., Plant
Trevor Joseph, Sr., Steinbrenner
Colin Julian, Jr., Newsome
Joseph Trim, So., Jesuit
Alonso: Eric Silver; Berkeley Prep: Paul Tsavoussis; Bloomingdale: Tyler Miller; Durant: Eric Modjeski; Gaither: Clyde Meadows; Hillsborough: Will Clarke; Jesuit: JC Cirella, Chet Ghioto, Lucas Trim; King: Joe Scicchitano, Tyler Weed; Plant: Todd Sessums, Brad White; Plant City: Connor Hurst; Riverview: Donte Davis; Sickles: Matt Tinkey; Steinbrenner: Nik Karlolo; Tampa Catholic: Nilo Sanchez, Ryan Tamashiro; Wharton: Jorge Junquera
Golfer of the year: Laura Hendee, Sr., Plant
Why we picked her: She owned the postseason, improving with each round. After edging teammate Kelsey Eisch by two strokes to win the Class 2A, District 9 tournament with 77 at Temple Terrace, Hendee shot 2-over 74 at Windermere Country Club to capture the Region 3 crown by a stroke. Then, in a blistering culmination to her prep career, she shot even-par 72 on the final day of the state tournament at Howey-in-the-Hills’ Mission Inn Resort to finish in a five-way tie for second (5-over 149).
Proudest accomplishment: Hendee points to her final 18 holes at state, where she posted the day’s third-best round in a field of 95. “It was really my irons on my second day,” she said. “I remember I hit eight of nine greens on the back nine.”
Future plans: Hendee signed early last month with the University of Miami. Among her new teammates will be Boca Raton’s Christina Ocampo, who defeated her by two strokes to win the state title.
Did you know? Hendee never played golf seriously until a few months before entering high school. An all-around athlete, she injured her right knee while playing tennis and took to golf at Palma Ceia while recovering. According to her mom, then-Palma Ceia pro Gil Gonsalves watched her swing a few times and deemed her a natural. …Hendee’s lucky number is 11, which she has inscribed on all her TaylorMade Penta balls.
Coach of the Year
Meg Jordan, Plant City: The 1985 Plant City graduate guided her alma mater to unprecedented success. Unbeaten in the regular season (capped by a dual-match win against Plant), the Raiders won Class 2A district and region team titles, and earned a program-best fifth-place finish at the state tournament.
Kelsey Eisch, Sr., Plant: Top-four region finisher tied for 11th at 2A state tourney
Belinda George, Sr., Plant City: Steadiest postseason player for team that placed fifth at state
Emmy Martin, So., Academy of the Holy Names: Jags ace won Class A district, region titles
Julia McQuilken, Sr., Riverview: UNF signee set a school nine-hole record (3-under 32)
Madison Opfer, Sr., Durant: Tulane-bound Cougar earned fourth consecutive top-10 state finish
Claire Becker, Fr., Steinbrenner
Kelsey Jensen, Sr., Plant City
Shelby Johnson, Sr., Plant City
Casey Pluchino, So., Academy of the Holy Names
Kayla Poff, Fr., Plant
Academy of the Holy Names: Mariah Diaz; Bloomingdale: Elizabeth Jackson; Freedom: Summer Moser, Teresa Romero; Gaither: Morgan Litchfield; King: Steffi Yo; Plant City: Kellyanne Hurst; Robinson: Caroline Gilhool; Steinbrenner: Sara Bair, Brooke Deal, Michelle Stein; Wharton: Shannon Clark