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Getting back in the swing

Breaking down North Suncoast boys and girls golf is a lot like looking for a ball in deep rough. It's difficult to find what you are searching for until you're right up on it. Then the fun begins. This year on the North Suncoast should prove to be hot competition on the boys side with a surplus of talent spread across county lines. For the girls, Mitchell again should dominate the greens with teams such as River Ridge and Zephyrhills vying to take down the Mustangs.

Girls

Five players to watch

1. Megan Berube, So., Springstead: Dominated Hernando County as a freshman and won the county championship. Her skills have only improved, and she returns as the player to beat on the North Suncoast. She also finished second at districts with 72.

, 2. Rebecca Van Etten, Jr., Mitchell: The last of the Van Etten golf legacy takes over the leadership role for the Mustangs. During her first two seasons, Van Etten proved the best challenger for older sister, Megan. The rivalry helped both improve. How Rebecca plays without her sister will be her greatest challenge.

3. Lauren Riehle, Jr., Saddlebrook: The Spartans' top girls golfer won the Class A, District 3 title last season then finished fifth at regionals after firing 82.

4. Spencer Valdespino, Jr., Bishop McLaughlin: The lone girls golfer for the Hurricanes will benefit from joining the boys for team competition in the regular season. She became the first girls golfer in program history to advance to district and regionals a year ago.

5. Kae Elliot, So., Nature Coast: Tied for 10th at regionals with Valdespino; Elliot was another Hernando County freshman standout in '09 expected to be in the thick of things this season.

Five teams to watch

1. Mitchell: The Mustangs have another stellar roster from top to bottom. One concern might be how Rebecca Van Etten recovers from back surgery. Her father, Roger, said she is getting back to full form and should be good to go for the season.

2. River Ridge: The Royal Knights have three starters returning and four golfers who have played who are all seniors. They are led by Kim Donato and Nicole Bylski as well as softball ace Lakyn Shull.

3. Zephyrhills: Despite concerns about youth, the Bulldogs have good coaching and should figure to be in the mix of top teams.

4. Springstead: Led by the strong stroke of Berube, the Eagles have some new golfers playing in higher positions. Their Nos. 2 and 3 have turned in some good scores.

5. Nature Coast: Expect Elliott to carry the load with at least two golfers to help with supportive scores and possibly some others to help push the team score.

5. Pasco: The Pirates had a breakthrough last season, advancing to regionals. They are led by junior Kellianne May.

Key matches

Sept. 2: Zephyrhills at River Ridge

Sept. 7: Mitchell at River Ridge

Oct. 7: Nature Coast at Springstead

Oct. 11-12: Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament at River Ridge

Oct. 12: Hernando County tournament

Oct. 18-19: District tournaments

Oct. 25-26: Region tournament

Nov. 3-4: State tournament

Boys

Five players to watch

, 1. Dylan Larson, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Larson flourished late last season, winning the Class 2A, District 6 individual title then leading the Bulls with 4-over 76 at regionals. As a senior, he has matured and is slated to lead a group of four top-flight golfers on their quest for more hardware.

2. Logan Horrigan, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch: Led the Bulls' charge for the program's first Sunshine Athletic Conference championship with his second-place 2-over 74. Horrigan and Larson have battled for the Bulls' top spot the past two seasons, and this year should be more of the same.

3. Alex Bensahel, Sr., Saddlebrook: The Spartans' calm and collected leader shot 3-over 73 for top medalist honors at the Class A, District 9 tournament. He should lead another stellar group.

4. Austin Padova, Jr., Fivay: The lone North Suncoast golfer to advance from his district and make state; Padova shot 79-76–155 to tie for 49th. His move to Fivay is significant.

5. Kentaro Toyota, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin: Shot 77 to become the lone golfer to break 80 to win the A-8 district title. The Japan native returns for one more shot at a state berth.

Five teams to watch

1. Wiregrass Ranch: The Bulls are stocked with talent and experience with the return of seven seniors, including four starters. The defending SAC champions should be tough to beat.

2. Saddlebrook: As usual, the Spartans expect to have at least five golfers who can break 80 on an 18-hole course.

3. Mitchell: The Mustangs have seven of 10 players returning with four new guys, including three freshmen. Coach Rick Hyatt said he is happy with the depth that has carried many of his past teams. Look for Isaac Schaefer, Sterling Bash, Dom Dithmer and Dylan Strout to lead.

4. Land O'Lakes: The Gators are improved with Ridgewood transfer Jon Kopsell and other seniors such as Robbie Nieman, Brad Weaver and Jessie Boger.

5. Bishop McLaughlin: The Hurricanes have four starters returning and figure to have another run at a region berth.

Key matches

Sept. 9: Nature Coast at Hernando

Sept. 21: Mitchell at Wiregrass Ranch

Sept. 30: Land O'Lakes at Wiregrass Ranch

Oct. 11-12: Sunshine Athletic Conference tournament at River Ridge

Oct. 14: Hernando County tournament

Oct. 18-19: District tournaments

Oct. 25: Region tournament

Nov. 3-4: State tournament

Getting back in the swing 08/24/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 10:05pm]
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