BOYS Teams To Watch
1. Fivay: For a team that finished third in its district and is led by arguably the best golfer in the county – Austin Padova – the Falcons, in only their second season, have high expectations, which include a district title and a berth to states as a team. In 1A-9, in which both Saddlebrook Prep and Wesley Chapel have few or no returning players, Fivay looks to be the top team, especially returning experienced players such as Jake Schoonover, Nick Piro and Travis Paxton.
2. Mitchell: The Mustangs are back, returning eight players that include Dylan Strout, Dominick Dithmer, Chad Dautzenberg, James Pittman, Peyton Schaefer and Billy Aston, all of whom average scores of 44 or less. With veterans like that, one senior and some impact newcomers such as Loren Chateau, the Mustangs will be looking to repeat last season's 11-1 season, but win the district title along the way.
3. Bishop McLaughlin: With a pair of seniors named Scott (Hiteman and Donovan), the Hurricanes are eyeing a third straight regional berth, especially after going 9-3 last season and 21-5 in the past three seasons under coach Jim Globokar.
4. Pasco: For the longest time, the Pirates were not a factor in the golf world, but have quietly built up a team that not only went 8-6 last season, but has gone 33-29 the past six seasons under coach Mickey Wilks. So with junior Austin Riddaugh leading the way, enter the improved squad of Jaxon Moore, Clint Tedder and Turner Imhoff, and Wilks has the golfers eyeing a district title
5. Zephyrhills: The Bulldogs are the lone Pasco County team in the 12-team 2A-5. However, led by a pair of Codys (Bahr and Nicols), Zephyrhills has high expectations after a ninth-place finish at districts in 2010. With help from Wyatt Nichols (90) and Chance Reutiman (93), the Bulldogs have a legitimate shot at the district title.
Saddlebrook Prep: Coach Mark Hirschey begins his ninth season at the helm, however, returns no starters from last season, in which Saddlebrook took the district title. But again, it's Saddlebrook, where the only two sports are tennis and golf, plus the golfers practice on a Arnold Palmer-designed course. More than likely, Saddlebrook will reload, but Hirschey still calls it "a work in progress."
Mike Rogers, Wesley Chapel: Takes over for the departing Alan Black, Rogers has big shoes to fill. The Wildcats finished 15th of 16 teams in the 1A state tourney, however, also saw four of its five starters graduate. It may take time to rebuild, but Rogers is in to "develop strong, competitive golfers."
Mike Horrigan, Wiregrass Ranch: Taking over for the departing Nick Cuviello, Horrigan also has big shoes to fill. With the loss of nine seniors from a 11-1 season, plus back-to-back SAC titles and a district championship last season, Horrigan has his work cut out in the new 2A-11 that includes Mitchell, East Lake and Palm Harbor University.
Be Careful ...
Wiregrass Ranch: The Bulls have numbers, plus above-average golfers,such as Logan Horrigan and Matt Prenderville. So, as a young but hungry team, the Bulls can easily play spoiler in the district.
Wesley Chapel: The Wildcats may be down after a stellar year, thanks to Brandon Mumaw and Jacob Fleck, but Wesley Chapel can still play spoiler in 1A-9 with No.1 golfer Noah Fleck.
Academy at the Lakes: Don't have great numbers, but neither do many of the teams in 1A-9. Could make a solid splash come district tournament time.
Sunlake: Always in the middle of the back at the district tournament, the Seahawks finished tied for fifth the past two seasons. So, with the return of senior Jake Nelson and led by the Jungbauer brothers, Brandon and Justin, Sunlake could have a strong season and showing at districts.
Keep Your Eye On …
Austin Padova, Sr., Fivay: As a sophomore at Ridgewood, he finished 37th at state. As a junior at Fivay, he finished tied 15th at state. Padova, who committed to play at North Florida and whose family owns Meadow Oaks Golf Course in Hudson, also won the individual district title by six strokes in 2010. Expect big things out of his senior season.
Dylan Strout, Jr., Mitchell: Probably the county's second-best player, especially with his nine-hole, 39-stroke average, but will look to avenge a dismal 89 at districts that left Mitchell with a fourth-place finish.
Scott Hiteman, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin: Shot 89 at districts, but now moves into the No. 1 spot with the departure of Kentaro Toyota.
Scott Donovan, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin: Shot a disappointing 107 at districts, but has improved vastly as the No. 2 golfer.
Austin Riddaugh, Jr., Pasco: Has improved since starting as a freshman (shot a 96 at districts), but an 83 last season to advance to regionals, where he shot a 79 for an 11th-place finish.
Chris Dodson, Sr., River Ridge: The best golfer on a 2010 squad that finished seventh at districts, where he shot a 78, sixth overall in the field.
Logan Horrigan, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch: Jumps to the No. 1 spot, but deserves it after shooting a 76 to help the Bulls to a district title, plus an 88 as a sophomore for a runner-up title in 2009.
Cody Bahr, Jr., Zephyrhills: Shot an 86 at districts last season, a 24th-place finish.
Cody Nicols, Sr., Zephyrhills: Shot an 84 at districts last season, a 17th-place finish.
GIRLS Teams To Watch
1. Mitchell: Hard to argue that the Mustangs won't be the dominant Pasco County team again, especially returning all five starters from last season's district runner-up and regional berth squad. The Mustangs have four players (Emma Fivecoat, Nina Argento, Lucy Argento and Alexa Olgesby) who all shoot in the 80s or better to back up arguably the county's top girls golfer, Rebecca Van Etten .
2. Zephyrhills: The Bulldogs were 10-2 last season, including 21-3 in three seasons under coach Ken Burgess, yet Zephyrhills finished in sixth place at districts. So, with four of their five starters returning, the Bulldogs have high expectations, especially with the No. 1 and 2 starters close in scoring.
3. Pasco: Despite a district runner-up title at 420 combined score, the Pirates made the most of great rounds by Kellianne May and finished fourth at regionals. Yet Pasco will need better rounds out of Kelli Parker and Jordan Lane (both shot 110-plus at districts), plus replace two departing seniors to ensure a postseason berth.
4. Academy at the Lakes: With seniors Ellen Crowley and Anna Fornelli, who shot an 86 and 88, for the 1A-District 9 district title last season, the Wildcats can easily take the title again in a weak district.
Tom Stratman: Takes over for Scott Schmitz, who went back to coaching the Mustangs football team, but kept girls program's streak of SAC titles alive. The Mustangs have 10 straight titles, but Stratman should be fine considering the stocked roster readily available.
Land O'Lakes: The Gators bring a young squad that includes no seniors, but with sophomore Eden Shirmohammad, Emily Conaty, Sabrina Butler and newcomer Alisa Raczka leading the way and showing signs of major improvement, Land O'Lakes would like nothing more than finish in the top half of the district.
River Ridge: The Royal Knights lose four of their five starters, all seniors, including top-scorer Lakyn Shull, who shot a 98 at districts. So it's rebuilding time, and it's centered around Jessica Petrashek, as River Ridge looks to stay competitive in the deep 2A-11.
Wiregrass Ranch: A 6-4 season led to a ninth-place finish at districts. However, with returners such as Bianca Scrimali and Amanda Teets, the Bulls are looking to stay competitive and play spoiler in a deep 2A-11.
Keep Your Eye On …
Rebecca Van Etten, Sr., Mitchell: If not for her older sister, Megan, Rebecca probably would've been the top golfer for the past four seasons. She'll have to settle for at least last season that had Van Etten shooting a 68 at SAC, a 73 at districts and a 79 at regionals. Van Etten will lead a loaded Mitchell team looking to return to states, where, in 2009, it finished seventh and Van Etten shot 80-85—165.
Spencer Valdespino, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin: Arguably the best female athlete for the Hurricanes (she's also a standout soccer and softball player), Valdespino, Bishop's lone girls golfer, is looking for her third individual regional berth. As a sophomore, she became the first female athlete at Bishop to advance that deep in the state tournament, plus, throughout the season, she competed with the boys team, playing from tees farther back to prepare her for postseason play.
Lauren Riehle, Sr., Saddlebrook: Probably would get as much praise as Van Etten if Riehle wasn't Saddlebrook's only girls golfer and played a full season, instead of the minimum just to runaway with the 1A-9 individual title the past two seasons. However, a 77 in districts, a 78 in regionals and a 37th-place finish at states with a 16-over-par proves she's an overlooked prep golfer.
Tiffany Bahr, Sr., Zephyrhills: A little player — one that's endured two open heart surgeries — who hits it a long way. Her endurance might have played a factor in her late season and postseason decline that saw a 97 at districts, but Bahr is the lone senior on a young, talented squad.
Sydney Owens, So., Zephyrhills: Has improved from the 117 at districts, enough so to make a push for the No. 1 starter spot. Owens is at No. 2 behind Bahr, but there's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.
Kellianne May, Sr., Pasco: Got scorching hot going into the postseason: a 70 at SAC for the runner-up title, a 79 for a district runner-up title and another 79 at regionals to miss qualifying for states individually by a stroke.
Rachael Palenik, Sr., Sunlake: Shot a 109 at districts for the Seahawks' 10th-place finish, however, is much improved and leading a young Sunlake squad.
Jessica Petrashek, Jr., River Ridge: Has her work cut out, but has gradually brought down the 153 she shot at districts.