After missing out on the state tournament by one stroke last year and two strokes in 2010, the Cypress Bay girls’ golf team was desperate to get over the hump.
Monday at the Region 8-2A finals at Bonaventure Country Club in Weston, the Lightning didn’t merely stumble over that hump — the team leap-frogged it.
With a score of 317, Cypress Bay topped runner-up St. Thomas Aquinas by 12 strokes and third-place Palmetto by 52 to claim the regional crown and advance to the state tournament.
“It’s no fun seeing the finals or reading about it in the paper when you know you could’ve been there by one stroke,” Cypress Bay coach Mike White said. “They knew it in the back of their mind. That’s why they didn’t take anything for granted. They went out there and played the best they could [Monday].”
The Lightning was led by sophomore Valentina Haupt, whose score of 4-over-par 74 topped the leaderboard at Bonaventure’s par-70 West Course.
“I didn’t play all that great, but I hit an eagle [on the par-4 fourth hole], which helped the team quite a bit,” said Haupt, who moved from Chile to the United States just five months ago. “After that, I just continued to maintain myself and remain positive.”
Haupt beat out St. Thomas Aquinas’ Ariana Garcia by one stroke. Lightning teammates Mikaela Thibodeau, Sherrell Buckley and Macarena Haupt, Valentina’s sister, followed her with scores of 80, 81, and 82 respectively.
With the top two schools in the regional earning a trip to Harbor Hills Country Club at Lady Lake, where the Class 2A girls’ state finals will be held, Aquinas’ team score of 329 was enough to get the Raiders to advance as well.
St. Thomas Aquinas has now advanced to states as a team 13 of the past 14 years.
Palmetto’s Molly Barlow advanced as an individual, carding a score of 77, which was third best.
While Barlow will be present, the Panthers, as a team, will be absent from states for the first time this century.
West Broward’s Jennifer Siriani (83) also advanced individually in regional play.
Cypress Bay 317, St. Thomas Aquinas 329, Palmetto, 369, West Broward 371, Coral Reef 380, Lourdes 475 (at Bonaventure CC par 70): Valentina Haupt (CB) 74, Ariana Garcia (STA) 75, Molly Barlow (PAL) 77, Mikaela Thibodeau (CB) 80, Heather Netti (STA) 81, Sherrell Buckley (CB) 81, Macarena Haupt (CB) 82, Taylor Moody (STA) 82, Jennifer Siriani (WB) 83, Adrianna Pineda (WES) 85, Ester Tothova (CG) 86, Michelle Laiacona (WB) 87.
Cypress Bay’s Dalton Jacobs stood on the 18th green with no idea of what was about to happen. His coach knew exactly what was happening.
It appeared that Cypress Bay and Columbus, — both sitting with team scores of 312 — were headed to a sudden-death playoff to determine first and second on at the 8-2A boys’ regional golf championship at Hillcrest Country Club in Hollywood.
Jacobs calmly two-putted for par to post a 10-over 82 — which bounced a teammate’s previous high score of 83 — to give Cypress a 311 team score and a one-shot victory over the Explorers and the regional title.
Both teams will advance to the state tournament at Deer Island Golf and Lake Club in Tavares next week.
“He hit it out of bounds and double-bogeyed 16 and then bogeyed 17 and was shaking his head from side-to-side coming off the green,” Cypress Bay coach Vince Grossy said. “I didn’t tell him exactly what was going on, but I knew where we were at team score-wise and where he was at and just told him to keep grinding and that every shot counts.”
Coincidentally, Jacobs, a senior who only picked up a golf club for the first time three years ago, is the team’s No. 5 player on the depth chart.
“When you’re on the bottom of the depth chart on your team, you always feel like you’re not helping out,” Jacobs said. “So it makes me feel great that I was able to come through for my team [Monday].”
For Columbus, which won three state titles in a four-year stretch from 1999-2002. it marked a return to the state tournament for the first time in three years.
“I felt like an expectant father pacing in the waiting room waiting for all of the scores to come in,” said Columbus coach Mike Marinelli, who was justified in doing so as only five shots separated first and fifth place. “After missing states the last few years, it was important to get back there, and I’m happy for the kids because it took a lot of hard work to get to this point again.”
Columbus was led by Julio Betancourt, who fired a 2-over 74 in conditions that at one point in the early afternoon delivered winds from 20 to 30 mph. Franciso De la Torre (78), Eddie Martinez (79) and Juan Yumar (81) combined to give Columbus its 312. J.P. Arrazola was the low scorer for Cypress Bay with a 74 followed by Manuel Kent, Edgardo Arrazola and Jacobs at 75, 80 and 82, respectively.
Medalist honors for the day went to St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore Dane Cianelli, who managed to birdie the final three holes late in the afternoon to finish with a 1-over 73 and punched his ticket to the state tournament.
Belen senior Oscar Cabanas cashed in the other individual spot with a 74, marking his third trip in a row to states.
Cypress Bay 311, Columbus 312, St. Thomas Aquinas 315, Palmetto 315, Belen 316, Miami Springs 333, Coral Reef 339, Coral Gables 342, Western 344 (at Hillcrest CC par 72): Dane Cianelli (STA) 73, Oscar Cabanas (BEL) 74, Julio Betancourt (COL) 74, J.P. Arrazola (CB) 74, Manuel Kent (CB) 75, Matt Galluzo (STA) 76, John Mercer (PAL) 76, Brent Webber (CG) 77, Francisco De la Torre (COL) 78, Zach Granoff (CR) 78, Pat Perez (MS) 78.
• District 12-8A semifinals– Western d. West Broward 25-15, 25-21, 16-25, 25-10: Alexa Oblak 18 kills, 8 points, 4 blocks. Amanda Medlock 22 digs, 15 kills, 9 points. Gabi Matos 30 assists, 8 points, 6 kills.
• District 12-8A semifinals – Cypress Bay d. Flanagan 25-9, 25-19, 25-15.
• District 16-7A semifinals– St. Thomas Aquinas d. Nova 25-7, 25-5, 25-9: Brooke Lyones 8 kills. STA 18-3.
• District 16-7A semifinals– South Broward d. Cooper City 25-19, 25-21, 25-15. SB 11-8.
• District 13-4A quarterfinals – Cardinal Gibbons d. Somerset 25-12, 25-6, 25-2: Hannah Hillis 5 kills, 23 points, 11 aces. Ali Jacobs 8 digs, 8 points, 4 aces. Franci Sequani 8 kills, 3 blocks. CG 10-10.
• District 15-3A quarterfinals – Archbishop Curley d. Dade Christian 25-17, 25-22, 21-25, 27-29, 15-9: Jensen Rayburn 5 aces, 7 kills, 4 blocks, 10 digs. Megan Romanik 7 kills, 5 digs, 4 aces. Shatoreia Edgecome 7 kills, 4 aces.
• District 14-3A quarterfinals – Westminster Academy d. Highlands Christian: Caroline Israels 24 kills, 4 points.
• MAST Academy 10, Hialeah-Miami Lakes 0: Mariana Speckmier 3 goals, 2 assists. Gaby Muino 2 goals. Nati Gilbert 2 goals.