Everything that should happen did happen Wednesday in the aftermath of Plantation American Heritage winning the state Class2A golf championship.
Smiles. Backslaps. Hugs. Laughter.
Those were all the good things that go with winning a huge plaque that declares you are the state champs.
But somewhere buried beneath all that joy, there was a certain sense of sadness.
The reason is the players, who have created so much success for so long starting as wide-eyed eighth-graders making an improbable journey to the state tournament five years ago, are finally going their different ways.
Four of them — Jorge Garcia, Kristian Caparros, Matt Mourin and Leo Coll — are seniors.
So on Wednesday, those four were hitting their final shots as American Heritage players.
“Yes, it is sad,” said Garcia, “but it feels good to go out on top with a win.”
That win was a huge one, and by a huge margin.
The Patriots captured the state title by 39 strokes over Jacksonville Bolles and Ponte Vedra, and Garcia won the individual championship with a two-round total of 5-under 139 over the Las Colinas course at the Mission Inn Resort and Club.
“This whole team is filled with winners,” Garcia said. “These guys are awesome. This team represents a big family.”
Garcia can still remember that first state tournament when he was an eighth-grader, wandering among much bigger and much older golfers. “It was pretty tough reaching the greens on the par-4s,” he recalled. “I was needing to hit a lot of hybrids to get to them.”
Obviously, over the years, Garcia started to hit the ball a lot harder and a lot longer, and the greens no longer were so difficult to reach. This year’s individual title and another one in 2012 attests to that quite nicely.
Caparros, who finished second two strokes behind Garcia for this year’s individual title, said at tournament’s end while standing just off the 18th green, “It didn’t hit me during the round that this was the final round for me as an American Heritage player, but it is starting to hit right now.
“I’ll miss these guys.”
Garcia and Caparros have known each other since playing junior tournaments together when they were 6 or 7 years old.
What does the future hold for Heritage’s four seniors?
Garcia will be heading to Florida on a golf scholarship at the end of the school year, and Caparros will be taking his shot at a pro career. Mourin and Coll plan to play golf in college but haven’t chosen a school yet. Ty Strafaci, a junior, will be the team’s only returning starter next season.
In those five years of being together, the Patriots have gone to state each year, finishing fourth once (when they were eighth-graders), taking second twice and walking away with the championship twice.
“There are a lot of memories out there,” coach Brandt Moser said. “Five years has been a long time with these kids — a great time.”
Class 3A: Team — 1. Lake Mary, 589; 2. Boca Raton, 594; 3. Tampa Plant, 598; 4. Lithia Newsome, 600; 5. Winter Garden West Orange, 609. Broward teams in top 16: — 8. Western Cypress Bay, 615; 11. Davie Western, 633. Individual -- 1. Tyler Bakich, Lithia Newsome, 168; 2. Gabriel Lench, Lake Mary, 139; 3. (tie) Robby Eisch, Tampa Plant, Kyler Tate, Winter Garden West Orange, 140. Broward in top 20: 18. Jonathon Cachon, Weston Cypress Bay, 149.
Class 2A: Team — 1. Plantation American Heritage, 574; 2. (tie) Jacksonville Bolles, Ponte Vedra, 613. 4. Gulf Breeze, 626. 5. Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, 633. Individual -- 1. Jorge Garcia, Plantation, American Heritage, 139; 2. Kristian Caparros, Plantation American Heritage, 141; 3. Logan Membrino, Ponte Vedra, 142; 4. Corey Carlson, Green Cove Springs Clay, 143. 5. (tie) Matt Mourin, Plantation American Heritage, Michael Stewart, New Port Richey River Ridge, 145. Other Broward in top 20: tie for 10. Leo Coll, Plantation American Heritage, 149; tie for 19. Tyler Strafaci, Plantation American Heritage, Steven Chervony, Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, 154.
Class 1A: Team — 1. Winter Park Circle Christian, 610; 2. Lake Mary Prep, 613; 3. Windemere Prep, 615; 4. PB Gardens Benjamin, 625; 5. Bradenton St. Stephen’s, 640. Broward teams in top 16: 14. Davie University School, 696; 15. Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian, 706. Individual -- 1. Luis Gagne, Orlando Christian Prep, 143; 2. Eugene Hong, Winter Park Circle Christian, 145; 3. Philip Knowles, Bradenton Christian, 146; 4. Greyson Porter, St. Pete Shorecrest Prep, 147; 5. Andrew Kozan, West Palm Beach King’s Academy, 148.
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