American Heritage golf teams grow winning tradition

09/01/2014 7:49 PM

09/01/2014 7:50 PM

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.”

GIRLS’ GOLF

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.

Season outlook

KEY DATES

District playoffsOct. 14-15

Regional playoffsOct. 20-22

State playoffs (girls)Oct. 28-29

State playoffs (boys)Nov. 4-5

2013 BOYS’ STATE CHAMPIONS

Class 3ABradenton Lakewood Ranch

Class 2APonte Vedra

Class 1ALake Mary Prep

2013 GIRLS’ STATE CHAMPIONS

Class 3ACypress Bay

Class 2APlantation American Heritage

Class 1AWinter Park Circle Christian

BOYS’ TEAM CAPSULES

AMERICAN HERITAGE: Coach: Brandt Moser; Last year: Class 2A state runner-up; Top golfers: Jorge Garcia (Sr.); Kristian Caparros (Sr.); Matt Mourin (Sr.); Ty Strafaci (Jr.); Garcia and Caparros have committed to Florida; Strafaci is a Georgia Tech recruit.

CALVARY CHRISTIAN: Coach: Marty Fanning; Last year: 14th at state in Class 1A; Top golfers: Zach Mendez (Jr.); Cory Duame (Sr.); Derek Butts (Sr.); Noteworthy: Their top five golfers from their run to state return.

NORTH BROWARD PREP: Coach: Ross Devonport; Last year: Fourth at district; Top golfers: Justin Shiao (So.); Hunter Hoersch (So.); Nick O’Bryan (8th grade); Noteworthy: Shiao has a shot to make state. Also watch for 7th-grader Marcus Kallor.

PLANTATION: Coach: Matthew Fritzius; Last year: 10th at regionals; Top golfers: Matthew Swirsky (Sr.); Erik Christensen (Sr.); Terry Bacchas (Sr.); Noteworthy: They graduated four golfers from last season.

SAGEMONT: Coach: Marco Salemi; Last year: NA; Top golfers: Kade Cannon (7th grade); Val Salemi (7th grade); Harrison Racicot (Fr.); Noteworthy: Cannon and Salemi have bright futures in the game.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Coach: Mike McIntosh; Last year: Fourth at regionals; Top golfers: Matt Galluzzo (Jr.); Zach Volts (Sr.); Trey Moody (Sr.); Noteworthy: McIntosh said his team’s strengths are its tee shots, game management and putting.

UNIVERSITY: Coach: Chris Granger; Last year: 4-10; Top golfers: Blake Maier (Sr.); Kenny Duecker (So.); Sam Bennett (So.); Noteworthy: The team won its district last season.

GIRLS’ TEAM CAPSULES

AMERICAN HERITAGE: Coach: Linda Sibio: Last year: Class 2A state champs; Top golfers: Alejandra Merchan (Jr.); Andreina Merchan (Sr.); Lorena De Antonio (Jr.); Noteworthy: Three of their top four golfers from last year graduated.

CYPRESS BAY: Coach: Wendy Wuenker; Last year: State champs in Class 3A; Top golfers: Valentina Haupt (Sr.); Brianna Buckley (Jr.); Josefina Haupt (Jr.); Noteworthy: The Haupt sisters and Buckley return from title team.

NORTH BROWARD PREP: Coach: Mike Ostrowski; Last year: Third at districts; Top golfers: Hannah Leiner (So.); Rina Arai (Sr.); Emma Rabinowitz (Fr.); Noteworthy: Leiner is ranked fifth in state among girls ages 13 to 15, but Claire Fitzgerald was lost to a transfer.

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