BROOKSVILLE - Depending on what numbers the coaches crunched, on paper three Hernando County teams appeared poised for a photo finish in Monday's six-team, Class 2A, District 13 Boys Golf Tournament.
Going in, two shots separated three teams - Hernando, Nature Coast Technical and Springstead.
Not surprisingly at the conclusion of 18 holes along the 6,530-yard Silverthorn Country Club layout, Springstead and host NCT were tied with identical 349 totals.
Hernando finished a shade behind at 354, followed by Fivay (389), Central (407), Weeki Wachee (436) and Hudson (488).
With darkness quickly descending, Springstead and NCT gathered their forces for a one-hole, sudden-death playoff to determine the district team champion.
But as both teams rolled out to the first extra hole, NCT frosh Glenn Richard was MIA, or missing in action. According to another linkster, once Richard turned in his scorecard, he went home.
As a result, NCT rolled out with four players while Springstead went out with five.
After the extra hole, the Eagles edged the Sharks denying them their first-ever district crown, 17-18.
NCT's ninth-year mentor Tom Brown didn't single out anyone following the narrow loss, saying, "First, congratulations to Springstead, they definitely earned this. I'd be lying to you if I wasn't disappointed.
"Today we had a few guys struggle. That's what happens in a district tournament," noted Brown. "You're not going to see the same team (in regionals), at this point, I expect a lineup change for regionals."
Away from the drama, NCT junior Jake Arnett carted home the coveted first-place blue medal with an 18-hole, even-par 34-38-72 total.
Arnett, earned his second straight district crown, topping Springstead senior Brazon Dixon and Hernando senior Cody Montgomery by seven shots - as both shot identical 79s.
While the Eagles, Sharks and Leopards each advanced to regionals at Fox Hollow next Tuesday, so do three golfers not associated with those squads: Weeki Wachee junior Mike Rampino (83), Fivay senior Sean Fluke (91) and Central junior Jans Tamayo (94).
"I thought the course played real well," described Coach Brown. "Every time it seemed someone would make a charge at Jake (Arnett), he was able to defend it. I'm very happy for him; he deserves this."
On whether it was harder to win his first district title last year or defending this year, "It's much tougher to defend," replied Arnett. "Last year, there was no pressure on me. This year, I was expected to win, so there was more pressure."
On the Silverthorn course, "It played exactly how I expected," noted Arnett. "Not having much wind really helped."
On winning, "This is huge," said Arnett. "I'm excited to be going to regionals again. From here, I'm turning my focus toward Fox Hollow to go to states. I expect to play a couple of practice rounds this weekend."
For the Eagles, Springstead claimed its first district championship in 23 years - or since capturing the District 5 title in 1990 behind that season's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Danny Latoria.
SHS was led by Dixon (38-41-79), junior Ben Cash (42-40-82), senior Ryan O'Connell (49-45-94), freshman Brett Maharaj (47-47-94) and junior Brendan Pfent (49-47-96).
"Winning districts tastes great," explained second-year SHS mentor Greg Odachowski. "Going in, I didn't think we'd have a chance playing in Nature Coast's backyard, but the kids played really well."
"The key," according to Odachowski, the county's defending Coach of the Year, "was staying consistent all day long. I thought Brazon shot well, but I was impressed with Ben's shot-making. It's difficult to single anyone out because everyone played so well."
Hernando's Montgomery, a three-time All-County performer, "struggled" to his second-place finish.
"I had a pretty rough day," pointed out the 18-year-old Montgomery. "I really haven't had a lot of practice because of the strep throat. I just got off the antibiotics. I had a weird day. I triple-bogeyed twice and hit two shots out of bounds - that's six strokes.
"If you take away those six shots then I played OK," added Montgomery. "Today, my putting carried me, but I just couldn't stay in the fairway."
On his next goal, "I'm happy to be going to regionals with the whole team. We weren't able to do that last year," recalled Montgomery. In 2012, the Leopards lost a three-way sudden-death playoff at The Dunes against NCT and Dunnellon.
"Because I've missed so much time, I barely qualified for districts," Montgomery said. "It's been a bumpy year. I'm hoping it'll take a different turn at regionals."
Final Class 2A, District 13 Boys Golf Tourney Standings
PL TEAM PTS.
1. Springstead# 349*
2. Nature Coast Technical# 349
3. Hernando# 354
4. Fivay 389
5. Central 407
6. Weeki Wachee 436
7. Hudson 488
* Won district champion in a one-hole, sudden-death playoff.
# Will advance to Class 2A, Region V @ Fox Hollow.
Class 2A, District 13 Tourney Team Results:
SPRINGSTEAD (349) - Brazon Dixon 38-41-79, Ben Cash 42-40-82, Ryan O'Connell 49-45-94, Brett Maharaj 47-47-94, Brendan Pfent 49-47-96.
NATURE COAST TECHNICAL (349) - Jake Arnett 34-38-72, Nick Feola 43-46-89, Glenn Richard 45-47-92, Dan Wempe 46-50-96, Brandon LaMondra 49-49-98.
HERNANDO (354) - Cody Montgomery 39-40-79, Pierce Kimbrough 45-43-88, Zayne Vasquez 44-46-90, Bryan Mitko 49-48-97, Cameron Price 52-49-101.
FIVAY (389) - Sean Fluke 48-43-91, Travis Isabella 49-49-98, Matthew Dehner 48-52-100, Richard Bohm 53-47-100.
WEEKI WACHEE (436) - Mike Rampino 47-36-83, Morgan Koons 52-52-104, Cameron McGee 62-60-122, Ben Doring 62-65-127.
CENTRAL (407) - Jans Tamayo 47-47-94, Alex Fredenburg 46-53-99, Morey Phoenix 56-56-112, Josh Ricchi 60-54-114, Mark Chupavich 55-47-102.
HUDSON (488) - Travis Conner 58-55-113, Thomas Locke 58-58-116, Austin Gignac 65-55-120, Logan Hill 63-76-139.
Final Class 2A, District 13 Top 10 Individual Results:
PL NAME SCH YR TOTAL
1. Jake Arnett NCT 11 34-38-72
2. Cody Montgomery HER 12 39-40-79
3. Brazon Dixon SPG 12 38-41-79
4. Ben Cash SPG 11 42-40-82
5. Mike Rampino* WW 11 47-36-83
6. Pierce Kimbrough HER 10 45-43-88
7. Nick Feola NCT 12 43-46-89
8. Zayne Vasquez HER 09 44-46-90
9. Sean Fluke* FIV 12 48-43-91
10. Glenn Richard NCT 09 45-47-92
11. Jans Tamayo* CEN 11 47-47-94
* Will advance as individuals to Class 2A, Region V Tournament @ Fox Hollow.