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Preps

Summer competition helps boost Junquera

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 12:38 PM
TAMPA -

From across the fairway at Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club's par-5, fifth hole, Wharton High senior Jorge Junquera looked more like a sprinter about to burst from the blocks than a golfer.

As he got down on his hands in a crouch, he examined his lie before taking his third shot from about 60 feet from the green.

After sending his shot over the hole and to the lip of the grass outside the green, the native of Madrid, Spain, made a 20-foot putt look effortless in carding the only birdie on a day when nothing went particularly well for anyone on the Wharton or King squads.

Although Junquera finished with a nine-hole 40, one stroke behind both King's Ajani Liggins and Sam Kloppenburg as the Lions won 161-170, the senior wasn't fazed.

"Not the best round today," Junquera said. "I'd never played this course and it's tough with a lot of rough and you have to be straight. That just wasn't my thing today."

As a sophomore, Junquera was a surprise for an already good Wharton squad, finishing in second place at the district tournament and leading the Wildcats to the team title. He followed that up a week later with a second-place finish at the region tournament with a 1-over 73.

Last season, Junquera shot 76 at the district tournament to finish fourth individually and qualify for the region tournament, but he had a disappointing region round and didn't make the state tournament.

During the summer, he returned to Spain and played in a junior tournament as a special exemption, playing on a team for his home city. At a tournament located at Madrid's Club Jarama R.A.C.E., Junquera shot 5 over for the three-day tournament, including 2 under in the final round to finish in the top 10.

"I competed in Spain with other cities in Spain," Junquera said. "When I was there I wasn't able to join the Madrid team because I live here now, but I was allowed to play and I did pretty well."

Junquera is a co-captain at Wharton with junior Sean Kim and the two are looking to improve on last season's disappointing fourth-place district finish and will try to get Wharton back into the region tournament.

King's Yo set to lead

King junior Steffi Yo shot a respectable 84 last year at districts to finish fourth, earning her a region tournament berth. Yo had a solid 2011 season for King, but as Lions coach Barrett Zebos put it: "There was Steffi shooting in the high 30s, and then there were four 63s."

Yo worked hard this summer to improve her game by practicing with her father, John, saying she was able to be more honest on what she needed to work on in her individual game, but she's taken on additional responsibilities this year — helping her teammates step up their game as well.

"I feel like we've grown a lot from that team last year," Yo said. "I feel like it is my job as a captain to keep the team unified and make sure everyone feels comfortable and isn't taking on too much pressure."

King opened the season with a four-stroke win against Wharton.

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