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EVERYONE'S A WINNER, REALLY, IN THIS DISTRICT

By Bob Putnam

Times Staff Writer

NEW PORT RICHEY - With only three schools able to field full teams and two individuals remaining, everyone moved on in Monday's Class 2A, District 14 girls tournament.

The only thing left was to sort out the pecking order.

The top team was easy. Mitchell, with five golfers capable of shooting the lowest round, had already put a lot of ground between itself and what passes for its competition.

And in one of the most anticlimactic tournaments, the Mustangs did just that, winning the team title with a score of 352.

Mitchell's girls played with razor-sharp focus, hitting the fairways and making clutch shots with three girls - Shyanne Dove (83), MacKenzie Bennett (88) and Lindsey Richardson (89) - all shooting in the 80s. They left little wiggle room for other teams to surge ahead.

Dove, who won individual honors, improved upon her previous season best by four strokes.

"We have such a strong, competitive team that any of us can shoot the best round on any given day," Dove said. "I thought I did well, especially on the front with a few birdies. It was definitely a confidence booster for me to have the round that I did."

Gulf, led by Sarah Usewick and Emily Couch, who each shot 97, finished as the runnerup (441).

Tarpon Springs was third (487). Anna Silva was the low scorer for the Spongers with 120.

Dunedin's Madeline Friese (120) and Anclote's Chelsea Steere (129) were the individuals not on full teams who moved on to regionals.

* * *

2A-15: Wildcats second

ZEPHYRHILLS - Led by individual medalist Matt Ruel, Jesuit won handily and Wesley Chapel was the runnerup in Monday's 2A-15 tournament at Silverado.

Things got a bit tighter for third place and the final qualifying individual spots for a region berth. So tight, in fact, that there were playoffs for both.

Sunlake defeated host Zephyrhills by making par at 16 on Hole No. 1. The Bulldogs were 2 over, settling for fourth and just missing out on regionals a second straight year.

Zephyrhills took solace in advancing Stephen Pollock, who shot 79 to place seventh overall.

"Even though we didn't make it as a team the other kids were rooting Stephen on," Zephyrhills coach Sean Klotz said.

Taking the other two at-large spots following a two-hole individual playoff between four golfers who tied at 85 were Pasco's Turner Imhoff and Land O'Lakes' Lawrence Cai.

Ruel, a sophomore, won his first district title by finishing 4-under 68. He made 14 pars, four birdies and reported no major problems navigating the course.

"It really shows that I played to my ability and I played solid golf," said Ruel, who placed fifth in last year's district tourney at Emerald Greens. "I hung in there all day."

Jesuit shot 300 as a team, thanks in part to taking four of the top six finishes. Alec Murawski was the tournament runnerup (75), Kurt Sierra took fifth (78) and Joseph Trim shot 79 to finish sixth.

"I feel pretty good about 300. I knew they could do that," Jesuit coach Nico Hohman said.

Wesley Chapel (328) was led by Zach Leemens, who placed fourth at 78.

Sunlake and Zephyrhills each totaled 350 before the playoff hole. Jake Roberts paced the Seahawks with a round of 76 to finish third.

Steve Lee, Times correspondent

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