For six years, Academy of the Holy Names coach Chris Kumka has counted himself a lucky golf coach. Wednesday, Kumka couldn’t help but be a little melancholy about the Jaguars’ future after AHN, led by seniors Emmy Martin, Mariah Diaz and Casey Pluchino, finished in sixth place at the Class 2A state tournament at Howey-in-the-Hills’ Mission Inn with a two-day total of 663.
The seniors have played for the school for more than half a decade, and they have been everyday starters for the Jaguars since making their first trip to the state tournament in 2009.
“With this senior class for the last five years, I could pencil them in 1, 2 and 3 since they were in eighth grade,” Kumka said. “When next year rolls around, I think I’ll realize I don’t have Emmy, Casey and Mariah anymore. They are really good players, but they’re better kids, and I’m really going to miss them.”
Martin, who has attended the state tournament five times (four times with her team and once individually), said she struggled with her putter in the tournament, including taking a 9 on a par-3 Wednesday.
The reigning Tampa Tribune Player of the Year rallied to finish with birdies on the final two holes and turn in a 1-over-par 73 on the day for a two-day 149 to tie for eighth individually.
“It didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted,” Martin said. “I gave myself a bunch of chances, but didn’t finish well, leaving a number of putts out there. But after taking a 9 on that one hole, I played really aggressively and I think that helped me the rest of (the round).”
Martin, Diaz (who finished with a combined 171) and Pluchino (160) playing together for so long has allowed all three to learn from each other.
“We all started here together in seventh grade,” Martin said. “We’ve grown up playing together, and we’ve all really helped each other grow.”
The Mitchell girls finished in 10th place as a team.
Class 2A boys
Jesuit finished in fourth place (646) after improving six strokes from its Day 1 total, behind a 3-over-par 75 from sophomore Matt Ruel.
Ruel and senior Joseph Trim finished tied for 24th, each with two-day scores of 159. Junior Kurt Sierra followed Tuesday’s round of 77 with an 84 on Wednesday, as the Tigers finished 45 strokes behind the winning team from Ponte Vedra (601).
Ponte Vedra junior Taylor Funk won the individual title with a two-day score of 3-under 141.
Class 1A boys
Saddlebrook Prep sophomore Ryoto Furuya shot a 3-under 69 to lead all local golfers and finish tied for sixth individually. Furuya’s two-day 142, along with a 1-under 71 on Wednesday from freshman Won Jun Lee, helped the Spartans finish tied for fourth as a team with a combined 600.
Tampa Catholic, led by 20th overall finisher Nilo Sanchez (74-76—150), finished 10th as a team at the Class 1A tournament at Tavares’ Deer Island Golf and Lake Club. The Crusaders were led the second day by a 3-over 75 from junior Ryan Williams (82-75—157) and Tampa Catholic finished with a two-day 625.
Lake Mary Prep finished the tournament with a combined 580 to take the team title, while Melbourne Holy Trinity senior Kerry Sweeney finished with a 3-under 69 Wednesday to post 8-under 136 and win individual medalist honors.
Shorecrest Prep’s Greyson Porter finished 15th individually after a par 72 on the second day, with a combined score of 146.
Class 1A girls
Clearwater Central Catholic junior Emma Paschal was 28th individually with a 157 (77-80) as the top local finisher at the Class 1A girls state tournament at Lady Lake’s Harbor Hills Country Club.
Cambridge Christian’s Alison Armstrong matched her first-day score, turning in a pair of 79s to finish in a tie for 32nd place.
Tampa Prep, led by 11-year-old Lilly Berry’s 169 (84-85), finished 11th, while Berkeley Prep was 14th.
Winter Park Circle Christian (587) won the team title, while Hobe Sound Pine School senior Shannon Aubert won a playoff to take the individual title with a two day, 6-under 138.