MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Boys Golfer of the Year: Jimmy Stanger, Sr., Gaither
Why we picked him: A University of Virginia signee, Stanger came within five strokes of the postseason trifecta — district, region and state titles. He won the first two, both at Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club, before finishing third (1-over-par 145) at the 36-hole Class 2A state tournament in Tavares. A two-time District 9 champion, Stanger shot 34 on the Temple Terrace back nine at the Region 3 tournament to finish at 1-under 71 and edge close friend Sam Horsfield by a stroke. Solid throughout the season, he averaged 35.2 in his nine-hole rounds.
Proudest accomplishment: The blistering back nine at regionals, where Stanger birdied two of the last four holes. “There’s nothing better than making putts when you absolutely have to make putts,” he said. “It was one of the best rounds of golf I’ve had in a long time.” A close second — his 1-under 71 on Day Two of the state tourney, following an opening round played in frigid temperatures amid 25-30 mph gusts. “I was dumbfounded that two people shot 72 (on Day One),” he said. “I shot 74 and thought I had a very good chance of being leader in the clubhouse.”
Future plans: Stanger, who signed with the Cavaliers last month, said he chose Virginia because of the school’s history, sparkling academic reputation and immaculate golf facilities. His plans after golf? “Hopefully golf won’t be done,” he said. “That’s a sport you can play your entire life. But I’d love to go into politics.”
Did you know? Stanger, who is homeschooled, remains one of the state’s elite players on the American Junior Golf Association circuit, with five recent top-10 finishes. He is the first Floridian of veteran Cavaliers coach Bowen Sargent’s nine recruiting classes.
Tyler Bakich, So., Newsome. Shot best round of 2A state tourney (67) to tie for fourth
John Michael Coultas, Jr., Newsome. District champ earned top-25 finish at state tourney
Ryan Gendron, Sr., Plant. District runnerup had county’s fourth-best showing at state
Nilo Sanchez, So., Tampa Catholic. Region runnerup set TC nine-hole record (33) at Cheval
Brad White, Sr., Plant. Runnerup at Region 3 and Class 2A state tournaments
Jimmy Jones, Jr., Freedom
Colin Julian, Sr., Newsome
Ajani Liggins, So., King
Joseph Trim, Jr., Jesuit
Lucas Trim, Sr., Jesuit
Alonso: Jordan Sadowski; Berkeley Prep: Jack Brittain, Greyson Porter; Bloomingdale: Tyler Miller; Carrollwood Day: Austin Barkett; Chamberlain: Norman Black; Durant: Chase Levesque; Freedom: Liam Doherty; Gaither: Patrick Highland; Hillsborough: William Clarke, Chris Flaherty, Matt Szabo; King: Sam Kloppenburg; Jesuit: Chet Ghioto, Matt Ruel; Newsome: Brian Allen, Kyle West; Plant: Patrick Mills, Todd Sessums; Plant City: William George; Riverview: Donte Davis, Zach Simon; Robinson: Cody Brown; Sickles: Darin de Leyls; Steinbrenner: Dillon Garcia, Nik Kalolo; Tampa Catholic: AJ Pascua, Ryan Tamashiro, Joe Testerman; Wharton: Jorge Junquera, Sean Kim
Coach of the Year
Jim Govreau, Newsome. Led the Wolves to their second consecutive third-place finish at the Class 2A tournament, where they finished five strokes from a state title.
Girls Golfer of the Year: Terese Romeo, So., Freedom
Why we picked her: Though not a hands-down choice, Romeo got the nod in part for being down one hand. A 4-foot-9 former gymnast, Romeo underwent her second right wrist surgery — the result of a balance-beam accident — in August. Forbidden by doctors from using her right hand at the season’s outset, Romeo played her first three rounds of the season left-handed only, with kid-sized clubs (shooting 55 in one of them at Tampa Palms). Three days after being cleared to swing away, she shot 36 at Tampa Palms then averaged 38 over her last three matches. She then won the Class 2A, District 10 title by three strokes, followed with a region championship, and tied for 11th (two-day 158) at the 2A state tournament in Lady Lake. Her state placing was the best of any county player.
Proudest accomplishment: Her region title, though some full disclosure is necessary. Romeo finished with 75 — a stroke behind Steinbrenner’s Kayla Poff — on the course, but was awarded the title when Poff was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. “I had a couple of hiccup holes but I made five birdies,” Romeo said. “So it was like, I was finally making birdies and it was really good for my confidence just to see I was getting back to where I was.”
Future plans: Not gymnastics. Romeo’s family began weaning her off the sport about four years ago, when an aunt bought her a kids 5-wood for Christmas. “Injury after injury, man,” said Romeo, a gymnast for 11 years. “Fifteen hours a week and it was pretty crazy.”
Did you know? Romeo is heavily involved in First Tee, a nonprofit organization that teaches underprivileged children the game of golf and imparts life lessons in the process. … The way she describes it, her gymnastics injury could’ve been much worse. “I was in practice and I was doing two back handsprings on a beam,” she said. “I missed my foot and I tried to catch myself. My thumb landed the wrong way.” … Romeo’s hero is former LPGA star Colleen Walker, mother of Newsome boys standout Tyler Bakich. Tyler and his mom, terminally ill with cancer, were profiled in a Times story in October.
Claire Becker, So., Steinbrenner. District runnerup was team’s top finisher at 2A state tourney
Emmy Martin, Jr., Holy Names. District, region champ tied for 15th at Class A state tourney
Casey Pluchino, Jr., Holy Names. Top-five finisher at districts, regionals; tied-55th at Class A tourney
Claudia Rami, So., Carrollwood Day. District runnerup tied for 21st at Class A tourney
Steffi Yo, Jr., King. Won 2A, District 9 title by 11 strokes
Mariah Diaz, Jr., Holy Names
Caroline Gilhool, So., Robinson
Kelsey Holbert, So., Steinbrenner
Kellyanne Hurst, Jr., Plant City
Kayla Poff, So., Steinbrenner
Academy of the Holy Names: Christina Gerecke; Chamberlain: Emma Beth Fisher; Durant: Tori Higgins, Krista Reinhardt; Freedom: Maria Horvath; Hillsborough: Sarvika Bommakanti; Newsome: Meghna Patel; Plant: Caroline Bado; Plant City: Kaylee McIntosh; Riverview: Ashante Sanders; Steinbrenner: Brooke Deal; Wharton: Shannon Clark
Coach of the Year
Chris Kumka, Academy of the Holy Names. Led the Jaguars to their second consecutive district and region titles, and a 12th-place effort at the Class A tournament. Holy Names’ finish at state was the best of any county program.