EAST LAKE — At the close of the regular season, East Lake golf coach Terry O'Reilly saw a number of similarities between his team and the New York Mets.
Not the Amazins' who won the 1969 World Series. More like the Mets of the past two seasons, the team that built a substantial lead in the NL East only to go belly up, missing the playoffs each time.
The Eagles, according to O'Reilly, had the talent to make a return trip to the state tournament but weren't showing it.
Something just wasn't clicking.
Monday at the 2A, Region 4 tournament, the Eagles finally had it working on all cylinders.
With the team competition still undecided, East Lake junior Linzy Clark shot even-par 71 on the difficult course at Wentworth Golf Club to put the Eagles solidly in first. East Lake finished with 320, 12 strokes better than Dunedin (332), which also advances to the state tournament.
"(Clark) has the skills and the tools to shoot that well on a regular basis," O'Reilly said. "He's made some great steps this year and especially the last couple weeks as far as raising his stature on the team and becoming a leader by example as well as vocally."
Mitchell, led by Kenny Cavender's 5-over 76, missed out on advancing to state by four strokes after posting a team score of 336. Cavender was one of just eight golfers to break 80.
Riverview's Ian McConnell (72) and Palm Harbor University's Matt Cote (73) secured the individual berths. Jordan Padova of Ridgewood was seven strokes off with 9-over 80. The Rams' Jeff Koos shot 89.
A-3: Bulls finish 7th
The Wiregrass Ranch boys drove two hours on Interstate 75 to get to Monday's region tournament, but it was the driving the Bulls did after their arrival that might have done them in.
At times overwhelmed by a 6,800-yard course, the Bulls' improbable season ended with a seventh-place finish out of nine teams at Gainesville Golf & Country Club.
Wiregrass finished with a four-player stroke total of 355.
Ocala Trinity Catholic (312) won the team title by a stroke over Citrus.
2A-2: LOL senior Barnett shoots 88
Land O'Lakes senior Josh Barnett's quest for a state berth ended with a miserable day in Middleburg. Competing as an individual, Barnett shot 88 on the 7,037-yard Eagle Landing at Oakleaf Plantation.
Ponte Vedra Beach Nease (291) and Jacksonville Bartram Trail (294) placed first and second in the tournament, which also featured Springstead and Central. Springstead (350) was led by junior Ryan Kiely and senior Kevin Hubbard, who each shot 78.
Joey Knight, Times staff writer