The rivalry between Broward golf teams Plantation American Heritage and Archbishop McCarthy just keeps going on and on and getting stronger and stronger each and every year.
And there’s certainly no difference this year.
Heading into Wednesday’s second and final round of the Class 2A state championship on the Colinas Course at the Mission Inn Resort & Country Club, the two teams are not only smacking golf balls, they are trying to smack each other into submission.
American Heritage, in first place, takes an advantage — albeit a shaky one — with a two-stroke lead over Archbishop McCarthy after Tuesday’s Day One.
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“We’re going to win it,” decisively said Heritage’s Andreina Merchan, a senior who led the Patriots with a 2-over-par 74 despite bogeying the final two holes. “I’m positive we will win it. I have faith in my girls, my teammates.”
Heritage coach Linda Sibio was slightly concerned when she heard of Merchan’s unwavering prediction.
“You’re going to get the other team fired up,” Sibio said, half in jest and half seriously.
The rivalry between Heritage and McCarthy intensified substantially this year after McCarthy stunned Heritage by defeating the defending state champions by eight strokes in the regional a week ago.
Merchan was asked about the team’s reaction to losing that regional — and losing so big.
“Yes, we talked about it,” Merchan said. “It was on our course. That’s bad. We were disappointed.”
Can Heritage make that disappointment go away?
“Yes,” Merchan said. “If we win state, that will make the regional go far away.”
McCarthy coach Carl Phillips had his own opinion about what will be Wednesday’s ultimate outcome.
“Being two back isn’t bad,” Phillips said. “We spoke about that with the team. We think we’re in good position. We like the opportunity to come from behind.”
McCarthy’s Gigi Garcia, a sophomore, matched Merchan’s 74 to lead her team.
She also matched Merchan’s confidence. “We’re going to win state,” she simply said.
Apparently, there is more than enough bulletin-board material to go around.
And even though there is little agreement about who will be the eventual state champion, Garcia summed up what everybody seemingly does know.
“You better believe every shot is going to count in that final round,” she said.
In the Class 3A tournament, played in nearby Tavares, Weston Cypress Bay — led by sisters Valentina and Josefina Haupt shooting matching 77s — was in second place with a 316 total, three strokes behind Melbourne Viera.
Miami Palmetto ninth-grader Alexa Rivas easily topped the Dade contingent in 3A with a 73 to tie for third place individually heading into Wednesday’s final round.
Another strong showing by Dade was provided by Ransom Everglades , which was in fifth place, led by Chloe Horton’s 76 and Carolina Garrett’s 77.
Team: 1. Melbourne Viera, 316; 2. Weston Cypress Bay, 319; 3. Orlando Dr. Phillips, 325; 4. Winter Garden West Orange, 325; 4. Lake Mary, 326. Individual: 1. Teresa Romeo, Tampa Freedom, 71; 2. Selin Temur, Lake Mary, 72; 3. (tie) Alexa Rivas, Miami Palmetto, Taylor Rajeski, Viera, 73; 5. Mariana Ocano, St. Petersburg.
Team: 1. Plantation American Heritage, 317; 2. Archbishop McCarthy, 319; 3. Orlando Lake Highland,323; 4. Seminole Osceola, 326; 5. Naples Barron Collier, 336. Individual: Kendall Griffin, Sebring, 71; 2. Hayden Gibson, Osceola 73; 3. (tie) Gigi Garcia, Archbishop McCarthy, Andreina Merchan, American Heritage, Katie Holt, Lake Minneola, 73.
Team: 1. Lake Mary Prep, 296; 2. Winter Park Circle Christian, 303; 3. Delray Beach American Heritage, 310; 4. Orlando First Academy, 318; 5. Ransom Everglades, 327. Individual: 1. Sierra Brooks, Lake Mary Prep, 68; 2. Abbey Carlson, Winter Park Circle Christian, 70; 3. Mary Janiga, Delray Beach American Heritage, 71; 4. (tie), Allison Armstrong, Tampa Cambridge, Reagan Jahn, PB Gardens, 72.