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Hillsborough County high school golfers of the year: Newsome High’s Tyler Bakich, left, and Freedom High’s Terese Romeo


Hillsborough County high school golfers of the year: Newsome High’s Tyler Bakich, left, and Freedom High’s Terese Romeo




Girls golfer of the year: Terese Romeo, junior, Freedom High

Why we picked her: Romeo repeated as player of the year with an even better junior season. She won the Class 3A, District 10 championship in a playoff and claimed the Class 3A, Region 4 title by three strokes with 72. Romeo led her Patriots to the region championship and a 10th-place finish at state. "It was an experience like no other," Romeo said.

Proudest accomplishment: It's hard to imagine coming any closer to a state championship without winning it than Romeo did. She shot a county-low 146 to advance to a three-way playoff for the individual title, and her double bogey on the eighth hole led to a runnerup finish. "I don't really take it as a loss," Romeo said. "It was more of a learning experience. …I'm not gonna win everything that I go into, but I'm gonna put myself in position as much as I possibly can. The wins will come when they do."

Future plans: Romeo is receiving some interest from college recruiters but is keeping her options open. She said she plans to keep pursuing the sport by becoming a golf teacher when her playing days end. "I love watching kids progress and seeing them improve, almost the way I did," Romeo said.

Did you know? Romeo is getting a jump-start on her desire to teach. She spends two hours every Saturday morning at Heritage Isles Golf Club working with the First Tee. The nine-week courses teach a different core value each session. Romeo's work with the youth golf organization also sent her to Pebble Beach, where she got to play a round with her 23-year-old brother, Steven, as her caddie. "It was something I'll never forget," Romeo said.


Coach of the year: Richard Simard, Freedom High. His Patriots cruised to the district championship, then edged Steinbrenner by four strokes to take the region title and head to state as a team. Freedom finished 10th at the state tourney.


First team

Emmy Martin, senior, Holy Names: TCU commit again won district and region championships, and finished tied for eighth at the 2A state tourney.

Steffi Yo, senior, King High: Lost the district title in a playoff to Romeo, and shot an opening 79 at 3A state tourney.

Meghna Patel, junior, Newsome High: District runnerup shot 78 at regionals and finished tied for 16th at 3A state tourney.

Claire Becker, junior, Steinbrenner High: District champ shot a team-best 160 at state to lead the Warriors to a sixth-place finish.

Megan Pollenz, senior, Freedom High: Took third at district and region tourneys, and her 28th-place finish at state helped the Patriots finish 10th.

Second team

Alyssa Serino, Fr., Steinbrenner

Alison Armstrong, So., Cambridge Christian

Kellyanne Hurst, Sr., Plant City

Caroline Gilhool, Jr., Robinson

Tori Higgins, Jr., Durant


Honorable mention

Academy of the Holy Names: Casey Pluchino; Cambridge Christian: Ashley Zagers; Durant: Krista Reinhardt; East Bay: Natthakran Siribun; Hillsborough: Sarvika Bommakanti; Newsome: Taryn Runnels; Plant City: Kendall Johnson; Steinbrenner: Kelsey Holbert, Brooke Deal; Tampa Catholic: Kayla Poff, Lindsey Gonzalez; Tampa Prep: Lilly Berry, Olivia Kresic


Boys golfer of the year: Tyler Bakich, junior, Newsome High

Why we picked him: He was the top player on the county's top team all season. Bakich won the Class 3A, District 13 championship with 69 and finished second at the region tournament with 68. He shot a team-best 142 at state to help his Wolves finish second as a team — one spot better than last fall. He averaged just under 35 strokes per nine holes during the season.

Proudest accomplishment: Bakich soldiered through state with a fourth-place finish as a sophomore as his mother, Colleen Walker, was dying of cancer. "I didn't really want to be there, to be honest with you," Bakich said of his 2012 run. "This year, I just wanted to win. Even though I didn't win, I tried my best." He came awfully close. Bakich tied for second at 2 under.

Future plans: Bakich's mom is in Florida State's athletics hall of fame, and he attended his first Seminoles football game when he was still in diapers. "I've been a 'Nole my whole life," Bakich said. He orally committed to play golf at FSU in the fall. He hopes to compete for a national title at FSU while majoring in business with a minor in sports management.

Did you know? Although Bakich's mom had 30 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour and his father is a golf pro, Bakich didn't take to the sport quickly. "I didn't like it," Bakich said. "I thought it was boring." His first love was baseball — he was a pitcher and outfielder — but he began to take golf seriously when he turned 13 and realized his future was on the course, not the diamond.


Coach of the year: Jim Govreau, Newsome High.

Repeat winner took a team with only one senior even closer to a state championship. His Wolves finished second in 3A, only 15 shots behind champion Bradenton Lakewood Ranch.


First team

John Coultas, senior, Newsome High: Narrowly missed a top-five showing at 3A state tourney, tying for sixth at 2 over. Tied for second at district tourney.

Nilo Sanchez, junior, Tampa Catholic: District champ shot 71 at the region tourney and snagged a top-20 finish at state (6 over).

Chris Kern, freshman, Plant High: Finished second at district and region tourneys, and his 8-over finish at state helped the Panthers finish 10th.

Liam Doherty, junior, Freedom High: Region champion also shot 71 at district tourney.

Matthew Ruel, sophomore, Jesuit: His 68 was the lowest round of any county golfer at districts, and his 15 over finished tied for 24th at 2A state tourney.


Second team

Jacob Penny, Fr., Durant

Patrick Mills, Jr., Plant

Robert Eisch, Fr., Plant

Jimmy Jones, Sr., Freedom

Ajani Liggins, Jr., King


Honorable mention

Berkeley Prep: James Donigan; Chamberlain: Norman Black; Durant: Chase Levesque; Hillsborough: Christopher Flaherty; Jesuit: Joseph Trim, Alec Murawski; Newsome: Kyle West; Plant: Todd Sessums; Riverview: Dante Davis; Robinson: Andrew Skora, Karam Paul; Sickles: Darin deLelys; Steinbrenner: Zach Ishee, Dillon Garcia; Tampa Catholic: A.J. Pascua, Lucas Mylet



TIMES' TOP HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES: Hillsborough golf 01/16/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 10:54am]
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