One week after being upset by Miami Springs in their district tournament, which ended a decade-long hold on the title, the Columbus Explorers golf team was determined to make amends Monday afternoon.
And it did in impressive fashion. Competing in the Region 8-3A tournament at Hillcrest Country Club in Hollywood, the Explorers, led by junior Julio Betancourt, came in with a 295 team score, seven shots better than second-place Cypress Bay. Both teams will advance to the state tournament at Mission Hills Golf Club in Tavares on Nov. 5-6.
“Yeah, maybe that got their attention a little last week [placing second to Springs], and as competitors it can fuel you. But I was really proud of the kids the way they responded [Monday],” Columbus coach Mike Marinelli said. “You always want to be playing your best golf when it counts the most, and that’s what we did out there [Monday].”
Betancourt, who shot a disappointing 76 in districts last week, proved to be the catalyst by recording a 1-under-par 71 to take medalist honors. Rafael Martinez (74), Juan Yumar (75) and Eddie Martinez (75) rounded out the Columbus scoring.
“I got off to a great start with birdies at [Nos.] 2 and 3 and just grinded it out the rest of the way,” Betancourt said. “My wedges were really working [Monday], and I was really stuffing some shots in tight.
“It feels great to be going back to state. It was cold and windy last year, and we didn’t play very well, so hopefully the weather will be better.”
The real drama unfolded in the battle for second place and the other state berth.
Miami Springs’ players came in early with a 304 and thought they had a spot secured. But Cypress Bay scores came in soon after and it was close. Even though he didn’t know it on the fairway, Cypress Bay junior Manuel Kent’s team was one shot ahead of Springs, and he needed to par the final hole.
He did one better. Kent stuck a 9-iron from 130 yards out into the wind to an island green eight feet from the cup and sank the put for a birdie, sending his team to state for the second year in a row.
“It just worked out from district scores that Manuel was our anchor [Monday], and I was confident he could handle the pressure,” Cypress Bay coach Vince Grossi said. “He’s a calm kid who doesn’t get flustered, and it showed on that last hole.”
Coral Reef’s Zach Granoff and Micheal Carter from Palmetto qualified individually for state as they each shot an even-par 72.
1. Columbus 295; 2. Cypress Bay 302; 3. Miami Springs 304; 4. Western 317; 5. Palmetto 320; 6. Coral Reef 332; 7. Cooper City 346; 8. Miami Beach 347; 9. Coral Gables 359
1. Julio Betancourt (COL) 71; 2. Michael Carter (PAL) 72; Zach Granoff (CR) 72; 4. Manuel Kent (CB) 74; Rafael Martinez (COL) 74; Juan Arrazola (CB) 74; 7. Juan Yumar (COL) 75; Pat Perez (MSP) 75; 9. Luke Llaneras (MSP) 76; Kevin Fertel (TER) 76; Kyle Safreed (MSP) 76; Jonathon Cachon (CB) 76; 13. Tyler Sloman (KR) 77; Ethan Cairns (WEST) 77; Pat Bolton (MSP) 78
The Ransom Everglades girls’ volleyball team dominated Keys Gate Charter 25-7, 25-8, 25-5.
Daniella Simms led the Raiders with 14 points and seven aces. Debbie Ajagbe assisted with three kills and Sheridan Rodstein with two kills. Annie Elkin registered 12 assists for the night.