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.