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Golf: Tampa Bay high school preview

This year's high school golf season could be awfully similar to last year's golf season. Of the six 2013 Tampa Bay Times Players of the Year in the North Suncoast and Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, five return. They are Donnie Gabrelcik (Mitchell), Kelly Harris (Sunlake), Tyler Bakich (Newsome), Terese Romeo (Freedom) and Blake Dyer (St. Petersburg). Only Countryside's Madison Glennie has graduated.

Four of those five are seniors (Harris is a junior) and all have the goal of returning to the state tournament.

Perhaps no player is more motivated than Romeo. She earned a spot in the Class 2A state tournament at the Mission Hills Golf Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills as a junior. After two rounds she was in a three-way tie for the individual championship, which included Glennie.

After an eight-hole playoff she settled for second behind Kadi Pallastrone of Sarasota Riverview.

"I still think about it a lot,'' Romeo said. "It really stung when it happened. But I realize now that I played hard and I never gave up. All I can do is try to get back into that position and see what happens.''

Romeo certainly has momentum. She was invited to play in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in Seattle in July. In fact, she recorded a hole-in-one on the par 3, sixth hole during her first round. She hit a 4-hybrid from 170 yards. It was the first ever ace on the front nine in that tournament, and officials placed the ball in the USGA Hall of Fame.

"Really cool,'' Romeo said.

She has also fared well in other individual and team events leading up to the high school season.

"I'm really looking forward to this season,'' said Romeo, who is verbally committed to Mercer University. "I like playing high school golf. It's a lot different than junior golf. It's a team atmosphere and we have a lot of fun.''

Like Romeo, St. Petersburg's Dyer has his eyes on a state championship. Dyer played seven junior tournaments this summer, five out of state.

He would like to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Jack Maguire, who ended his senior year with a state title.

"Just being around Jack Maguire two years ago and seeing how he prepared and played really helped me,'' Dyer said. "He won the district tournament, then the regional tournament and then the state tournament. That's a perfect way to go out. That's what I'm hoping to do.''

Dyer recently committed to play at the University of Florida, where his dad also played. Also like Romeo, he said he can't wait to start his senior season.

"I love the high school season,'' Dyer said. "I take it very seriously. I just think it's really cool to play for your school. It's a short season so you want to be playing well from the beginning. I'm looking forward to it.''

Bakich, who has orally committed to Florida State, tied for second at the Class 3A state tournament and Newsome finished second overall. And Gabrelcik played well late in the season. He helped lead Mitchell to sixth place at the 2A tournament. Teammates Mike Spinger and Anthony Swinford both return. Both can shoot under par.

"Donnie really came up big for us late in the season,'' Mitchell coach Rick Hyatt said. "We've really got 1A, 1B and 1C players. And there's some good players behind them.''

Expect the Tampa Bay area to be well represented at this year's state tournament.

Boys players to watch

Tyler Bakich, Sr., Newsome: Won the district as a junior and finished second at the region and state tournament. Committed to Florida State.

Liam Doherty, Sr., Freedom: Won the region tournament as a junior.

Blake Dyer, Sr., St. Petersburg: Pinellas County player of the year, Dyer has been a starter since his freshman year.

Martin Fennemore, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: A second team all-county selection last season, Fennemore should have a big season.

Donnie Gabrelcik, Sr., Mitchell: The North Suncoast Player of the Year last season, Gabrelcik helped lead the Mustangs to the state tournament. He shot 1-under 70 at the region tournament.

Andrew Heric, Sr., CCC: With Fennemore, he'll be key in helping the Marauders get to state.

Ryan Hicks, So., Countryside: Summer season was cut short by mononucleosis, but he should be the Cougars' top golfer this fall.

Chris Kern, So., Plant: Had a big freshman year with second-place finishes at the district and region tournaments.

Ajani Liggins, Sr., King: Played well in summer tournaments, including 12th at the PGA Junior Championship.

Karim Oliver, Sr., Shorecrest: Capable of shooting in the low 70s any time. He will lead the Chargers this season.

Greyson Porter, Jr., Shorecrest: A consistent player as a sophomore, Porter shot 74-72 at the Class A state tournament and tied for 15th.

Jake Roberts, Sr., Sunlake: A qualifier for the Class 2A state tournament, Roberts was also third in the district and region as a junior.

Matthew Ruel, Jr. Jesuit: Just one of many talented players for Jesuit. Has been a top player for the Tigers since he was a freshman.

Nilo Sanchez, Sr., Tampa Catholic: A district champion last season, had a top-20 finish at the state tournament.

Mike Spinger, Jr., Mitchell: Had a solid sophomore season and tied for 21st at the state tournament.

Anthony Swinford, Sr., Mitchell: Won the Class 2A-14 district tournament and tied for 24th at the state tournament.

Key tournaments

Sept. 6: East Lake Invitational at East Lake Woodlands, 1.

Sept. 22: Outback Invitational at East Lake Woodlands, 10:30 shotgun

Sept. 29: Crutchfield Hawkins Invitational at Sebring

Oct. 2: Vinoy Classic, 1 (shotgun)

Oct. 4: CCC Invitational, Belleair CC

Oct. 14-15: District tournaments

Oct. 20-22: Region tournaments

Nov. 4-5: Boys state tournament. 3A: Deer Island Golf and Lake Club, Tavares.

2A/1A: Mission Inn Resort and Club, Howey-in-the-Hills.

Girls players to watch

Alison Armstrong, Jr., Cambridge Christian: Has been playing high school golf since her eighth grade year at Northside Christian.

Claire Becker, Sr., Steinbrenner: Should lead Steinbrenner after a district championship as a junior.

Shyanne Dove, Jr., Mitchell: Dove is only a few strokes behind teammate Kelly Harris and finished 50th at the Class 2A state tournament.

Haydyn Gibson, Jr., Osceola: Shot 1-under 71 at the district tournament and 76 a the region tournament. Could be Pinellas' top golfer this season.

Kelly Harris, Jr., Sunlake: The North Suncoast golfer of the year, she tied for 46th at the Class 2A state tournament.

Ryanne Jackson, Jr., Northside Christian: She has played since her eighth-grade season. Averaged just under 40 strokes per nine holes as a sophomore.

Alyssa Lamoureux, Fr., Northside Christian: Can shoot close to par and should be one of Pinellas' top golfers.

Terese Romeo, Sr., Freedom: Two-time Hillsborough Player of the year. Lost individual state title in a three-way playoff.

Emma Paschal, Sr., CCC: A Class A state qualifier as a junior, Paschal finished 28th at the state tournament.

Meghna Patel, Sr., Newsome: Tied for 16th at the Class 3A state championship.

Key tournaments

Sept. 18: Mustang Invitational at Seminole Lake CC, 1 (shotgun)

Sept. 29: Crutchfield Hawkins Invitational at Sebring

Oct. 14-15: District tournaments

Oct. 20-22: Region tournaments

Oct. 28-29: Girls state tournament. 3A: Deer Island Golf and Lake Club, Tavares. 2A/1A: Mission Inn Resort and Club, Howey-in-the-Hills

Golf: Tampa Bay high school preview 08/16/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 16, 2014 8:55pm]
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