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2A-11 girls golf: Durant's Wardzinski pushes through pain for individual, team titles

Team results: Durant 334 (Erika Wardzinski 76, Madison Opfer 79, Kerrie Reinhardt 85, Olivia Higgins 94), Wharton 369 (Brittany Bradshaw 86, Nina Hwang 86, Shannon Clark 96, Emily Rodriguez 101), Riverview 393 (Julia McQuilken 83, Pamela Mayo 97, Ashante Sanders 100, Jessica Serenko 113), Plant City 423, Freedom 430, Newsome 464, Bloomingdale 472, East Bay 489, Brandon 509, Armwood DQ

Region qualifying individuals: Belinda George, Plant City 83; Abby Rolfe, East Bay 85; Kelsey Jensen, Plant City 87

TAMPA — Erika Wardzinski's frustration and bogey total were mounting concurrently. The Durant junior couldn't keep an approach shot on a straight trajectory or her golf bag on her manual pull cart.

So four holes into Monday's Class 2A, District 11 tournament, Wardzinski, sprained left ankle and all, chose to carry her clubs the rest of the way. In the process, she helped carry the Cougars to a second straight district title.

On a cool, blustery day at Heritage Isles Golf & Country Club, the Cougars' dual-sport star overcame her dreadful start with 4-over-par 76 to capture the individual title.

"I started off with four bogeys," said Wardzinski, who hurt her ankle while playing volleyball about three weeks ago and hadn't completed an organized round for Durant since. "That's when I got rid of the pull cart. And then I started getting good."

A 5-foot-6 setter for the volleyball team, Wardzinski played even par her final 14 holes, capped by an 18th-hole birdie after her 135-yard approach shot landed within 3 feet of the pin.

"She's very goal-oriented and she's a fighter," Cougars coach Dick Sheffield said.

"So she got through the front nine and probably realized, 'I'm within one stroke of being in the lead,' and things started clicking. She started making putts, she started making birdies, she started hitting the ball crisper."

Cougars sophomore Madison Opfer, the defending district champ, finished two strokes back. She and Wardzinski were the only players to eclipse 80 on a day when the crisp air and shifting winds kept the ball from carrying and dried up the greens.

The elements, of course, weren't all Wardzinski had to battle. As recently as last week, she retired from a nine-hole match against Plant City after only a few holes because of ankle pain. On Monday, she said it wasn't much of a factor.

"I would've just toughened it out," said Wardzinski, who left Heritage Isles shortly after her round to prepare for a volleyball match at Plant. "It was all right today. I'm going to ice it afterwards."

The top three teams, and top three individuals not on those teams, advance to the Region 4 tournament Oct. 27 in New Port Richey. Durant (334) was followed for a second straight year by Wharton (369). Riverview (393) was third.

2A-11 girls golf: Durant's Wardzinski pushes through pain for individual, team titles 10/19/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 12:22am]

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