American Heritage might not have its entire boys’ golf team in one place for several weeks, but when its players all unite — likely for the regional and state playoffs in late October — watch out.
“Our top four players are seniors, so they are going to be busy taking their ACTs and SATs as well as traveling to different [junior golf] tournaments,” Heritage coach Brandt Moser said. “But when we put it all together, we should be electric.”
Heritage’s boys won state for the first time in 2012, when Jorge Garcia also took the individual title. Last year, the Patriots finished second, just two strokes behind Ponte Vedra.
“It’s not like we played bad,” Moser said. “But [Ponte Vedra] was making 40-foot birdies and hitting amazing shots.”
Moser said Ponte Vedra graduated Taylor Funk, who won the individual state title. But Moser warned that there are amazing golf teachers and players in the Ponte Vedra area, and he expects them to be strong again.
Meanwhile, the Patriots figure to return to state with Garcia and three other top golfers — Kristian Caparros, Matt Mourin and Leo Coll — playing their senior seasons. Garcia, Caparros and Mourin made first-team All-Broward, junior Ty Strafaci made the second team, and Coll placed on the third team.
Individually, Caparros finished third at state, six shots off the lead with a two-day total of 147. Garcia was fourth at 148. Both Caparros and Garcia are University of Florida recruits. Mourin finished 10th, and and Strafaci, a Georgia Tech recruit, came in 13th
Garcia, who is set to play in China and Japan in the coming weeks, figures to lead the way for Heritage.
“I think we were one of the three best teams in the state last year regardless of class,” Moser said. “And we have that same potential this year, too.”
Last year, which was the first time state golf was split into three classes, Broward’s girls won two championships for the first time, taking the 3A title (Cypress Bay) and 2A title (American Heritage).
Heritage has won five state titles since 2005. With one more title, it would tie the state record of six, which was set by Lake Worth in 1976.
Linda Sibio, Heritage’s coach, graduated three seniors from last season who are now playing college golf: Claudia De Antonio (LSU), Marisa Messana (Clemson) and Jamie Freedman (Nova Southeastern).
In addition, Gabriela Ferre, now a junior, has transferred to Cypress Bay.
Heritage’s top returning golfer is senior Adreina Merchan, who is being recruited by Southeastern Conference schools.
Other top Heritage golfers include her sister, junior Alejandra Merchan, and Caudia’s sister, junior Lorena De Antonio; and junior Sunny Li. Youngsters Casey Weidenfeld, a sixth-grader, and eighth-grader Alena Lindh will battle for spots.
Sibio said another team to watch in 2A is McCarthy, which picked up some transfers after finishing seventh in the state last season. In 3A, no one would be surprised if Cypress Bay makes it back to state even though new coach Wendy Wuenker — the school’s assistant athletic director — didn’t get the assignment to run this program until one week ago.
Wuenker, a former college softball player at Miami (Ohio), inherits three golfers who played on last season’s state title team: senior Valentina Haupt, her sister Josefina Haupt, who is a junior, and junior Brianna Buckley.
2013 BOYS’ STATE CHAMPIONS
2013 GIRLS’ STATE CHAMPIONS
BOYS’ TEAM CAPSULES
GIRLS’ TEAM CAPSULES