Mitchell's girls golf team returns to the state tournament today for the first time since 2004. The girls are in the hunt for the Class 2A state title at the Ocala Golf Club, and there will be plenty of stiff competition.
Where the team stands: Mitchell shot 322 to win the Class 2A, Region 4 tournament. Some other impressive team scores among 2A state contenders include Timber Creek (321), Gulf Breeze (322), Lake Mary (323), Naples Gulf Coast (328) and Viera (328).
Individual contention? The top region rounds came from Durant sophomore Madison Opfer (67) and St. Thomas Aquinas junior Victoria Trapani (69). Mitchell's Megan Van Etten was fifth (73) and sister Rebecca Van Etten sixth (74).
Some history: The Mustangs first teed off in 2000 under the guidance of former coach and current Gulf principal Steve Knobl. Led by a pair of freshmen and sophomores, Mitchell went 13-1 in the regular season and won the first of many Sunshine Athletic Conference titles. Mitchell returns to the state tournament as a team for the first time since 2004 in Scott Schmitz's first season.
Practice round: The girls spent Monday playing a practice round at Ocala Golf Club, getting a taste of the up-and-down greens and the variety the course seemed to offer. The girls are staying in a Mariott, but already have had to seclude themselves from teammate Kristen Pitts, who is coping with a cold.
Wish fulfilled: One personal goal of senior Megan Van Etten was for her team to advance to state. That wish proved beneficial as Van Etten finished fifth at region and would not have advanced to state as an individual.
Motivation: The letters PRF are placed on ball marks the girls are carrying throughout the two-day state tournament. Van Etten's father, Roger, came up with the idea, and the letters that stand for positive, relax, focus have helped the girls do just that, Van Etten said.
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 421-3886.
For the boys
Ridgewood sophomore Austin Padova was the lone state qualifier for North Suncoast boys. He will tee off at 8:45 from the first hole at the Country Club at Silver Springs Shores (565 Silver Road, Ocala). He was second at the Class 2A, Region 4 tournament with 73.
If you go
Where: Ocala Golf Club, 3130 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala
Time: Players begin teeing off at 8 a.m. from the 10th hole.
Mitchell's tee times: Kristen Pitts (9:30), Emma Fivecoat (9:39), Victoria Kinney (9:48), Rebecca Van Etten (9:57), Megan Van Etten (10:06)