Boys and girls golfers to watch

As good as high school golf has been around here in recent years, the truth is we're in a bit of a slump at the state level. But that may be about to end. On the girls side, no county player has claimed an individual state championship since Chamberlain's Whitney Code was the medalist nine years ago. This year's crop of locals, though, appears to have three players capable of winning gold — Alex Milan of Sickles, Amy West of Durant and Shena Yang of Wharton. There has been an even longer drought on the boys side. In 1970, King won its second straight team championship. No county squad has earned once since. But Plant, which returns much of its top talent from last season's fifth-place team, might be poised to break through. Here's a little more you should know about the 2008 season, which begins next week.

Boys

Super six

Doug Letson, Plant, Sr.: Steady performer; regional runnerup.

Charlie Martin, Plant, Sr.: Tied for 27th at state at 2007 2A tourney.

Ian McConnell, Riverview, Jr.: District and region champ last fall.

Blake Morris, Berkeley Prep, So.: 2007 district champ; top five in region.

Charles Silverfield, Plant, Jr: 1 under (71-72) at state to tie for fourth.

Trent Stoker, Tampa Catholic, Sr.: Sub-40 nine-hole average; second at region.

Things to know

.Berkeley Prep senior Austin Suarez, a three-year starter, is likely to earn a major college scholarship — for basketball.

.Because Tampa Catholic does not have a girls squad this fall, ninth-grader Lorin Ahulstad will compete for the boys team. And, "she can hit the ball really well," Crusaders coach Kevin Yarnell said.

.Last season Riverview advanced to regionals for the first time. This fall, the Sharks have four of their top five players back: McConnell, R.J. Slater, Tyler Young and Nathaniel Wilson.

.How popular is golf at Plant? Thirty-three players have told coach Dan Vona they intend to try out. Of that group, 11 are ninth-graders.

.King graduated all-county performer Chris Biuso, who signed with Louisville. But the Lions picked up sophomore Drew Kloppenburg, a talented transfer from Gaither.

Girls

Super six

Jessica Alexander, Newsome, Sr.: Tied for fifth with 78 at regionals.

Kim Carpenter, Berkeley Prep, Sr.: District champ; seventh in region.

Kelsey Gibson, King, Jr.: Averaged 38 in regular season; second at districts.

Alex Milan, Sickles, So.: Earned district championship by five strokes.

Amy West, Durant, Sr.: Shot blistering 68 last fall at districts.

Shena Yang, Wharton, Sr.: Tied for sixth at Class 2A tournament.

Things to know

. Durant's West is trying to reach the state tournament for a fourth straight season. After rounds of 77-78 there in 2007, she tied for 16th.

. Berkeley Prep standouts Kim and Kyleen Carpenter are identical twins. Kim beat her sister by four shots at districts; Kyleen beat Kim by two at regionals.

. Sickles' Milan, like most area players, had a busy summer. The highlights were a fourth-place showing at the Florida State Junior Championships and her 3-0 record at the Florida Cup.

. Tampa Prep senior Taylor Richardson, the Terrapins' top returning player, was an all-county soccer player and key member of the school's state championship squad as a junior.

. Looking for a sleeper this fall? Might be Durant senior Heather Wengyn. She appears to be returning to the form she showed as a sophomore, when she was 24th at state.

Fan guide

District tournaments:

Oct. 13-14

Regional tournaments:

Oct. 20-21

Boys FHSAA finals: Oct. 28-29 (Class A, The Golf Club at Bridgewater, North Lakeland; Class 2A, Southern Dunes Golf & Country Club, Haines City)

Girls FHSAA finals: Oct. 28-29 (Class A, The Club at Eaglebrooke, Lakeland; Class 2A, Ridgewood Lakes Golf & Country Club, Davenport)

2007 champions:

Boys — Class A: Orlando Circle Christian; Class 2A: Ponte Vedra Beach Nease

Girls — Class A: Plantation American Heritage; Class 2A: Lake Mary

Boys and girls golfers to watch 08/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 11:47pm]

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