Marisa Messana was a wide-eyed middle schooler when American Heritage last ruled the state girls’ golf championships, holding down the final roster spot as the Patriots completed a run of three consecutive titles from 2007 to ’09.
Forgive her if she thought it was easy.
“I thought I was going to have six rings on my fingers,” Messana said, holding out both hands where the rings might have gone.
Three years of frustration taught her otherwise, as it did for two teammates who joined the squad as freshmen. On Wednesday, though, the senior trio finally could share in triumph.
The Patriots returned to the top of the podium in style, running off with the Class 2A title by 47 strokes at Mission Inn in Howey-in-the-Hills to evoke images of Heritage’s last dominant run.
“Finally!” fellow senior Claudia Di Antonio said. “We’ve been working on this for so long.”
Said Messana: “The fact that we didn’t quite get there the last three years was really frustrating, but it’s pretty cool to have it this year.”
The frustration belonged to the Heritage boys this year, watching their bid for back-to-back crowns fall painfully short in finishing two shots behind new champion Ponte Vedra.
The Patriots made up an eight-shot deficit by the turn, but couldn’t match some timely Ponte Vedra birdies down the final stretch.
“It’s bittersweet day for the boys,” coach Brandt Moser said, “but it’s a real exciting day for the girls.”
The girls, who led by 23 after the opening round, left no doubt by placing four players among the top 10 individuals. Their winning margin was the largest by anyone in the state tournament since 2007, when Kyle Roig and Shelby Coyle led the Patriots to a 52-shot romp over Bradenton St. Stephen’s.
About the only item left unfulfilled was the individual title, where De Antonio’s 75 left her two shots behind Ponte Vedra’s Nicolette Donovan. A double bogey at No. 17 proved to be the difference, leaving her at 2-over-par 146.
“I’m a little upset at that,” she said, “but it happens.”
Messana and Andreina Merchan were another stroke back for coach Linda Sibio’s squad, with Jamie Freedman (148) tied for eighth.
The boys played to a compelling finish, but the Patriots couldn’t coax home a key birdie over the final two holes. Nor did they have a counter for Ponte Vedra’s Taylor Funk — son of Champions Tour pro Fred Funk — who won the individual crown at 3-under 141.
“We gave them as good a run as we could have given them,” said Jorge Garcia, whose 72 led the Heritage charge.
Kristian Caparros took top honors among the Patriots, placing third in the individual competition at 3-over 147. Garcia was another shot back in fourth.
Archbishop McCarthy finished fifth in the boys’ competition and seventh among the girls, marking a solid return to states and a bright outlook for next year.
“I think it’s going to help out a lot going forward,” said coach Carl Phillips, who loses just one senior from his boys’ squad and two on the girls’ side.
Among individual competitors, Cardinal Gibbons’ Sam Madson used a 74 Wednesday to tie for seventh among the boys. On the girls’ side, Pine Crest’s Samantha Haubenstock rose to 10th after a 74.
In the Class 1A tournament at Deer Island Country Club in Tavares, University School’s Jordan Gumberg used a closing 70 to tie for 10th among individuals. Calvary Christian and Westminster Academy were well back in the team chase.
Nova’s zone-busting three-point shooter Bernadette Devaney and her defensive-minded teammate Trellanie English-Lurry ended speculation over their college choices with oral commitments.
Devaney, who has earned a reputation as a clutch deep shooter, will take her dead-eye marksmanship to Lehigh University, while English-Lurry will play for Georgia Southern.
“I think they’re both good fits,” Nova coach Jason Hively said. “Bernie and Trellanie have put in a lot of time and effort to prepare themselves for the college game. They have played against good competition in high school and the summer circuit. They will both have an opportunity to compete and play right away on the next level.”
Devaney and English-Lurry have been cogs in the Titans compiling a stellar 68-18 record and earning two final-four appearances the past three seasons.
A year ago the duo led a Titans (22-8) team devoid of any post presence on an unlikely run to the Class 7A state championship game.
English-Lurry averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 3.2 steals, but Hively said those numbers don’t tell the impact she had on the defensive end.
“Trellanie is our lock-down defender,” Hively said. “She does all the little things that make up a good, complete player. Defensively, she does the communicating, jumps the passing lanes and gives great help side defense.”
GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALLRegion 4-4A quarterfinal, Pine Crest d. St. Andrews 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-17: Region 4-8A quarterfinal, West Broward 25-14, 25-10, 25-11: Region 3-8A quarterfinal, Western d. Douglas 17-25, 25-14, 25-8,25-22: Region 3-8A quarterfinal, Cypress Bay d. 25-10, 25-21,25-17 Region 4-4A quarterfinal, Chaminade-Madonna d. Pope John Paul 25-7, 25-17, 25-23:
BOYS’ GOLFNorth Broward 176, Boca Christian 181 (at Delray Dunes Country Club par 35) :
GIRLS’ SOCCERArchbishop McCarthy d. Boynton Beach 9-0: American Heritage d. Coconut Creek 11-0: Pine Crest d. St. Andrews 6-1: North Broward d. South Florida HEAT 2-0: