Fielding a team strong enough to contend for a state championship hasn’t been easy for Miami-Dade County programs for more than a decade.
The county still turns out plenty of talented young golfers annually without fail.
This season promises to be the same on both the boys’ and girls’ sides, with most of Dade’s top golfers returning.
South Dade’s Cole Castro, who earned Miami Herald Golfer of the Year honors last season, hopes to carry over his success from the end of last season and the offseason he spent earning top-10 finishes at several prestigious junior PGA tournaments.
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Castro was a district and regional champion last season and posted a Dade-best finish at the Class 3A state tournament, finishing 21st overall.
The Bucs’ senior also participated in the Florida Cup representing the South team and was the runner-up at the Junior Amateur Match Play event.
Castro will face tough competition from another strong Columbus squad that figures to be among the best in the county once again.
Junior Sharif Amastha, a regional runner-up last season, started the year with a runner-up finish at the Westminster Christian Invitational. Amastha, junior Roberto Nieves and senior Jake Moscoso form a formidable trio at the top of the Explorers’ lineup.
Moscoso will follow in the footsteps of former Columbus golfers Stefano Diaz and Francisco De la Torre and compete in a tournament at Pebble Beach in California with a Champions Tour golfer. Moscoso will be the third Columbus golfer to do so in the past five years.
Palmetto returns senior Jordan Laklak and added junior Logan Bryant as the Panthers hope to return to prominence.
Palmer Trinity brings back last year’s Youth Fair champion, Cameron Piedra, who is entering his freshman season.
Ransom Everglades could emerge as a contender in Class 1A with a strong squad that could challenge rival Gulliver.
Ransom is led by freshman Jake Beber-Frankel and returns eight strong golfers. Gulliver is led by junior Chris Nido, who is coming off a regional championship last season.
Beber-Frankel’s sister, Phoebe, also leads the way at Ransom for the girls’ squad. She is one of several talented individuals who are expected to vie for a spot at the state tournament.
In Class 3A, three of the county’s best — Lourdes sophomore Daniella Spillert, Palmetto junior Alexa Rivas and Coral Reef’s Abigail Chai-Onn — will no doubt battle at every major tournament this season.
Rivas and Chai-Onn each lead squads hoping to break through a tough Class 3A region.
For Carrollton, expect junior Tanya Eathakotti to continue to vie for championships as she continues her spectacular high school career.
Divine Savior’s Alicia Cappellaro hopes to follow up her district and regional title season last year.
Miami-Dade and Broward season overview
Sept. 16: Ida Baker Invitational; Sept. 20-21: Youth Fair tournaments; Sept. 29: GMAC championship; Oct. 4: Maverick Invitational; Oct. 10-12: Districts; Oct. 17-19: Regionals; Oct. 25-26: Class 3A state meet at Howey-in-the-Hills; Oct. 28-29: Class 1A state meet at Howey-in-the-Hills; Nov. 1-2: Class 2A state meet at Howey-in-the-Hills.
2015 BOYS’ STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 3A: Lake Mary; 2A: Ponte Vedra; 1A: Lake Mary Prep.
2015 GIRLS’ STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 3A: Lake Mary; 2A: Archbishop McCarthy; 1A: Lake Mary Prep.
TOP RETURNING DADE BOYS’ GOLFERS
Sharif Amastha, Columbus, Jr.; Jake Beber-Frankel, Ransom Everglades, Fr.; Logan Bryant, Palmetto, Jr.; Cole Castro, South Dade, Sr.; Kristian Fortis, Palmer Trinity, So.; Jordan Laklak, Palmetto, Sr.; Roman Lopez, Gulliver, Jr.; J.P. Mehu, Westminster Christian, So.; Jake Moscoso, Columbus, Sr.; Chris Nido, Gulliver, Sr.; Roberto Nieves, Columbus, Jr.; Cameron Piedra, Palmer Trinity, Fr.; Tyler Thompson, Coral Reef, Sr.
TOP RETURNING BROWARD BOYS’ GOLFERS
Julius Boros, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr.; Jonathan Cachon, American Heritage, Sr.; Dominic Carrera, Pine Crest, So.; Miles Castoro, Pine Crest, Sr.; Leo Herrera, American Heritage, Fr.; Hunter Hoersch, North Broward Prep, Sr.; Jude Kim, American Heritage, Fr.; Justin Lilly, Archbishop McCarthy, Fr.; Alberto Martinez, American Heritage, Jr.; Justin Shiao, North Broward Prep, Sr.; Anthony Wells, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Carson Yates, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr.
TOP RETURNING DADE GIRLS’ GOLFERS
Phoebe Beber-Frankel, Ransom Everglades, Fr.; Alicia Cappellaro, Divine Savior, Sr.; Abigail Chai-Onn, Coral Reef, Sr.; Tanya Eathakotti, Carrollton, Jr.; Daniella Perez, Westminster Christian, Jr.; Alexa Rivas, Palmetto, Jr.; Daniella Spillert, Lourdes, So.
TOP RETURNING BROWARD GIRLS’ GOLFERS
Brooke Benedetto, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Jillian Bourdage, American Heritage, Fr.; Georgette Garcia, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Hannah Leiner, North Broward Prep, Sr.; Julia Matzat, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Christen Simons, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.; Casey Weidemfeld, American Heritage, 8th.
BOYS’ SEASON OUTLOOKS – CLASS 3A
COLUMBUS (Coach Mike Marinelli, 7th year, 70-8-1). Last year: 10-2 (Regional champions). Top golfers: Roberto Nieves, Jr.; Sharif Amastha, Jr.; Jake Moscoso, Sr.; Javi Rodriguez, Sr.; Joel Garcia-Lee, Jr.; Robert De Paz, Sr.; Tyler Whitney, Jr.; Dave Ragan, Fr.; Ernesto Parabeles, Fr.
PALMETTO (Coach Mike Klekotka, 11th year at PAL, 13th overall). Last year: 10-4. Top golfers: Jordan Laklak, Sr.; Logan Bryant, Jr.; Jason Bouchard, Sr.; Colson Pelletier, So.
CORAL REEF (Coach Ray Lanway, 3rd year at CR, 12th overall). Last year: 8-2. Top golfers: Tyler Thompson, Sr.; Kyle Dickson, Sr.
REAGAN (Coach Kevin Whelan, 4th year at RR, 6th overall, 23-12). Last year: 6-5. Top golfers: Bryson Harris, Jr.; Kevin Lejuez, Jr.
CAROL CITY (Coach Charles Hankerson). Last year: No team. Top golfers: Charlie Smith, So.; Shaun Jones, Fr.
GULLIVER (Coach Jim Piggot, 1st year). Last year: Regional champions. Top golfers: Chris Nido, Sr.; Roman Lopez, Jr.
RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Dave Ragan III, 12th year, 104-58-3). Last year: 9-4. Top golfers: Jake Beber-Frankel, Fr.; Zach Buttrick, Fr.
PALMER TRINITY (Coach Jeff Rose, 4th year, 23-12). Last year: 12-5. Top golfers: Cameron Piedra, Fr.; Kristian Fortis, So.; Robert Bistry, So.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Bryan Parizo, 16th year, 136-44-2). Last year: 4-5. Top golfers: Griffin Steutel, Fr.; Quinn Walker, So.; T.J. Mack, 7th; Antonio Justo, 6th; Sam Netkin, 6th; Max Ruskowski, 6th.
WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Steve Blaum, 20th year, 100-80). Last year: 11-7. Top golfers: J.P. Mehu, So.
DIVINE SAVIOR (Coach Ryan Kirchoff, 2nd year). Last year: N/A. Top golfers: Lisandro Gil, So.; Luis Suarez, So.
GIRLS’ SEASON OUTLOOKS – CLASS 3A
CORAL REEF (Coach Ray Lanway, 3rd year at CR, 12th overall). Last year: 10-0. Top golfers: Abigail Chai-Onn, Sr.; Natalia Avila, Sr.
PALMETTO (Coach Mike Klekotka, 5th year at PAL, 13th overall). Last year: 10-2. Top golfers: Alexa Rivas, Jr.; Katie Burge, Fr.; Hannah Burge, Jr.
LOURDES (Coach Ignacio Vazquez, 6th year). Last year: 5-5. Top golfers: Daniela Spillert, So.; Victoria Someillan, Sr.; Sophie Vega, Jr.; Bianca Garcia Rivera, So.
CARROLLTON (Coach Armando Echeverria, 7th year, 18-12). Last year: 4-2 (12th at state). Top golfers: Tanya Eathakotti, Jr.; Andy Delgado, Jr.; Irene Labarta, Sr.; Julliette Stott, So.; Miranda Ortega, So.
DIVINE SAVIOR (Coach Ryan Kirchoff, 2nd year). Last year: N/A. Top golfers: Alicia Cappellaro, Sr.; Marissa Mola, 8th.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Bryan Parizo, 16th year, 136-44-2). Last year: 5-2. Top golfers: Sabrina Cabarcos, Fr.; Bela Mead, 8th; Kaylee Parizo, 8th; Mina Segall, Sr.
WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Steve Blaum). Last year: N/A. Top golfers: Daniella Perez, Jr.