Believe it or not, one of the county’s best, if not top, golfers, isn’t even helping his team.
The Mitchell High boys golf team may be 4-0, but its because of its depth, experience and talent, all of which hasn’t included the reigning Sunshine Athletic Conference Boys Golfer of the Year, junior Donnie Gabrelcik.
“I require a plus four (score) or better to qualify (for our top five golfers), and Donnie hasn’t shot it, plus a lot of practices have been rained out, so he hasn’t had the chance to do so,” Mustang coach Rick Hyatt said. “I know its killing him and I feel bad for him because I told him it figures the Player of the Year can’t even break into the lineup.”
Mitchell still dominated a tri-meet Thursday, shooting a 149 over Gulf’s 171 and Wiregrass Ranch’s 173 at Quail Hollow Golf Course in Wesley Chapel. Anthony Swinford led the field with a 2-under 70. Four other golfers shot a plus-1 73, showing the depth of Mitchell, as five or six other talented golfers will eye the fourth and fifth spots behind Gabrelcik, Swinford and Mike Spinger.
“I guess that’s a good problem to have, but I’m not rubbing it in,” Hyatt said. “My job is to get the guys in who are hot at the right time. We know we still have to post good scores.”
This week, Mitchell hosts Sunlake on Tuesday and Class 2A-District 14 rival River Ridge on Thursday at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Trinity. On top of that, the Mustangs are then hosting their annual Outback Invitational at East Lake Woodlands on Sept. 16. The 15-school field includes the likes of Jesuit, Palm Harbor University, CCC and 2A team state champion Bradenton Lakewood Ranch.
“That will give us a good idea where we stand,” said Hyatt, who added Mitchell will field two teams during their tourney. “We’re not looking ahead, but a lot of things line up for us, including districts at Seven Springs and regionals at Fox Hollow, so if we play like we’re capable of, then we’ll do well.”
Falcons fighting on
Fivay’s girls golf team made its first state appearance last season, and while they may not want the finish (16th out of 16 teams), the golfers want a return to the tourney.
“We’re optimistic with high expectations,” coach Joshua Peterson said. “We have four girls with experience and a lot of girls without experience, and while we’re facing a lot of good teams, we have lofty goals, too.”
The Falcons are off to a 1-1 start, having a match with Land O’ Lakes rained out Thursday, defeating Pasco, but also losing to Mitchell by 40 strokes. While the Falcons will have to face mostly Hernando County teams, including the Leopards and Nature Coast from 2A-13, they do return the Mariano sisters, Amber and Lauren, plus Samantha Dehner, though lost Ashley Arrington, who transferred to Mitchell.
Showing depth, Fivay is getting an 9-hole 42 average from Amber Mariano, while the No. 5 golfer, Dehner, is shooting in the low 40s, as well.
Mitchell living up to legacy
It’s no secret the Mustang girls golf team has been dominant for the past decade.
However, the past two seasons have been let downs, and the 2013 squad is out to change that.
“We won districts in 2011, came in second in 2012, then finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in regionals,” coach Thomas Stratman said. “So we want to do better in regionals and get back to states. That’s every team’s goal, but its definitely one you always talk about at Mitchell.”
Mitchell, which hasn’t made the 2A state tourney since 2009, is off to a 4-0 start, including defeating Gulf and Wiregrass Ranch by shooting a 159 on Thursday at Seven Springs’ Challenger Course. Mackenize Bennett led the way with a plus-2 35, while the Mustangs top golfer, Ashley Richardson, shot a 44, still giving the team a 38-stroke victory.
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.