Palmetto’s girls’ and boys’ golf teams were victorious at the District 24-2A finals Monday and advanced to regionals next week.
It comes as no surprise for the program whose boys’ team has made state every year since 2005 and girls’ team last missed the state tournament before the turn of the millennium.
Winning the district to reach regionals is a mere steppingstone on the path to the greater goal.
The boys beat a field of seven schools, edging out runner-up Belen by nine strokes with a team score of 310 at the par-72 Redlands Golf Course. The girls bested Coral Reef and Lourdes with a 386 at Palmetto Golf Course (par 73).
Both teams also featured the top individual golfers in their respective fields.
Russ Mercer repeated as the low individual scorer of the boys’ district championship, shooting a 3-over-par 75 — as he did last year on the same course.
“I started well,” said Mercer, who wasn’t thrilled because he shot last year’s score in the rain and didn’t top it in better weather Monday. “I chipped in on the first hole, and I got some putts in early. … I was hitting it good all day.”
Gabriella Montes led all girls with an 84.
“My short game really helped me — my chipping and my putting,” she said. “That’s what saved me on the front nine and made my game a lot stronger.”
Montes ran into some trouble on the back nine, hitting into the water on the 14th hole, but she bounced back on the last four holes, including a birdie on the par-3 17th.
Now the Panthers focus on reaching states once again with regionals Monday. The boys’ tournament will be played at Hillcrest and the girls’ at Bonaventure Country Club.
“I think we’ll do well,” Montes said. “They put a bunch of new schools [St. Thomas Aquinas and Cypress Bay] in our region, so it’s going to be a tough competition, but I think everybody’s been playing really well. I think we have a good shot.”
Belen and Coral Reef were the other two schools to advance in boys’ play. The top three individuals outside of those schools also advance into regional play. Those were South Miami’s Christopher Dupont, South Dade’s Kevin Perham and Killian’s Omar Mujahid.
All three girls’ teams that participated Monday (Palmetto, Coral Reef and Lourdes) automatically advanced as they were the only schools to play enough golfers to register team scores. Others advancing are Braddock’s Monique Enriquez, Ferguson’s Diana Sanchez and South Miami’s Kristen Perez.
• BOYS’ RESULTS – Palmetto 310, Belen 319, Coral Reef 340, Killian 373, South Dade 383, South Miami 390, Sunset 495 (at Redlands GC par 72): Russ Mercer (PAL) 75, Oscar Cabanas (BEL) 77, Guillermo Saade (BEL) 77, Mike Carter (PAL) 77, Matt Martinez (PAL) 79, Daniel Ledbetter (PAL) 79, Christopher Dupont (SM) 79, Kevin Perham (SD) 81, Julio Corona (CR) 82, Joaquin Trigueros (BEL) 82, David Castano (PAL) 82, Daniel Perez (BEL) 83.
GIRLS’ RESULTS – Palmetto 386, Coral Reef 402, Lourdes 503 (at Palmetto GC par 73): Gabriella Montes (PAL) 84, Lauren Eustace (CR) 88, Molly Barlow (PAL) 88, Chin-Sang Jasleen (PAL) 95, Leia Schwartz (CR) 99, Krystal Farinas (CR) 101, Monique Enriquez (BRA) 111, Ximena Corona (CR) 114, Nathalia Dondo (LOU) 116, Danielle Bouchard (PAL) 119.