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Central High School


TONY CASTRO Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:26 PM

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In 2011-12, both Springstead and Nature Coast tied for the most amount of Hernando County team championships (eight apiece).

The first two county titles of the 2012-13 school year will be decided this week on the links.

The county's five high school golf programs, Central, Hernando, Nature Coast, Weeki Wachee and Springstead, will compete in the boys golf county tournament beginning at 1 p.m. Monday at The Dunes in Weeki Wachee.

The following day at 2 p.m., the five female links squads will compete for top honors at Weeki Wachee's The Heather Golf and Country Club.

Interestingly, the Eagles are seeking a five-peat in both tourneys.

Despite being limited to six matches, the Eagles enter the 18-hole event unbeaten against their local brethren while breaking in first-year mentor Greg Odachowski.

The 4-2 Eagles have been solved twice by the North Suncoast's deepest and most talented team – Crystal River.

The Pirates, who topped Springstead by 14 and six shots, are focusing on defending their Class 1A, District 8 championship on Oct. 15 at The Dunes.

Odachowski's crew features four players among the top nine on the latest Hernando County Honor Roll: senior Ryan Nicoll (averaging 37.0 per nine holes), junior Brazon Dixon (40.5), and sophomores Brendan Pfent (46.4) and Ben Cash (46.7).

Rounding out the Eagle's squad is junior Ryan O'Connell (48.4).

Nicoll, who paces the county in scoring for the second straight season, seeks his second straight low-medalist crown.

Last fall as Springstead compiled a 336 total at Ridge Manor's Sherman Hills Golf Club, Nicoll fired an 18-hole 35-36—71, edging his closest rival Cody Montgomery of Hernando by five shots.

Both Pfent and O'Connell return. Neither Dixon nor Cash competed in the county meet last season.

According to Coach Odachowski, the recent rash of August-like weather may have stunted the Eagles' development.

"I hope it (not playing many matches) doesn't hurt us," described Coach Odachowski. "The weather's been so weird; we've missed a bunch of practice time."

On the keys to a five-peat, "This is a team game in an individual setting," noted Odachowski. "I have no doubts Ryan (Nicoll) will shoot lights out. He's played that way all season long. I do think Brazon (Dixon) has to shoot well, too.

"I just don't see why we can't win this."

The battle for medalist honors appears to center around three players: Nicoll, Montgomery and Nature Coast's Jake Arnett.

"I won't say Ryan (Nicoll) has it locked up, but the odds are in his favor," said Coach Odachowski. "He has an excellent swing and if he wants this bad enough, I think it's his."

On what may be the difference, "The course could always make a difference," pointed out Odachowski. "But I think it really depends on which game the kids bring to The Dunes."

Nature Coast's eighth-year skipper Tom Brown has not budged on his preseason assessment of the Eagles.

"There's no change. They're definitely the team to beat," identified Brown. "The biggest difference lies in their number three and number four players. They're much more consistent than anyone else's number three and number four guys."

Going into a Saturday 18-hold tri-match at Saddlebrook, the Sharks were 5-7 and led by sophomore Jake Arnett. Arnett, who carded a 40-47—87 total in the county event last fall, was averaging 38.9 strokes per nine holes this season.

On forecasting Monday's event, "It'll be really hot when we start and it's a long course. Luckily we're playing more than nine holes on Saturday to get us acclimated with playing 18 holes.

"There are a lot of variables in playing in that type of weather," he added. "Luckily, anything can happen across 18 holes. We're looking at this as a tune-up for districts."

As far as medalist honors, Coach Brown pegs Nicoll as the one to beat.

"I have no doubt that Nicoll will bring his 'A' game," confided Coach Brown. "I think any one of three guys (Nicoll, Montgomery and Arnett) could win this. A fourth could be Dixon; he's the sleeper."

The Hernando Leopards enter the meet 4-9 overall, dropping two head-to-head meetings against the Eagles by 29 and 30 strokes.

Similar to Coach Brown, Hernando's' second-year mentor Kevin Magilligan is a realist about his team's chances.

"Springstead is the team to beat. They're much deeper than everyone else in the county," noted Magilligan. "For us, it's not about the Cody Montgomery show. Just because he shoots a great round doesn't mean we can win this. We need an entire team effort.

"Brandon (Lawson) has to shoot in the low 40s for us to even beat Nature Coast," he added. "The Dunes is tough. We don't have waste bunkers at Brooksville (Country Club). We're using this match to ready for districts."

Montgomery arrives as the county's second-ranked player, averaging 38.3 shots per nine holes.

Entering Tuesday's girls nine-hole county championship, Springstead is attempting to stretch its school record to five consecutive county titles.

Springstead enters the meet unbeaten at 7-0-0 this fall. Thursday's 193-226 win over Hernando served as the Lady Eagles' 30th straight dual-meet win in a row.

Veteran Springstead mentor Kathleen Long does not shy away from the Lady Eagles' lofty expectations.

"I definitely see us as number one. The girls have definitely improved as the season has gone on. This isn't just about Megan (Berube). Every one of our girls has shot their personal best.

"Now, I see a lot of the other teams are getting better and better. They're closing the gap on us," noted Long, Hernando County's defending Coach of the Year. "To me, that's great for golf in our area."

On the keys to garnering a fifth county crown, "Each of the girls has a certain number in her head," said Long. "All I ask is that they try as hard as they can to attain that number."

The senior Berube enters as the county leader in scoring at 40.3, followed by junior Kylie Van Meter (50.7), senior Emma Betters (50.9), junior Kiki Schau (51.3) and senior Kearstin Yarbrough (61.4).

Berube will be attempting to do what no other female linkster has ever achieved locally – capture her fourth straight county crown.

Nature Coast senior Kae Elliott, however, sent shock waves through golfing community when she fired a blistering nine-hole 39 Tuesday evening at World Woods to solve Berube by three shots and hand the defending Player of the Year her first-ever loss to a county opponent.

"Megan has to understand that the other (county) girls are hungry to beat her," noted Coach Long. "I've stressed to her that she has to want this (low-medalist honors). She's worked so hard to get this far. She's in a class by herself.

"I try to tell her that even great golfers can have a bad day," added Coach Long. "Every team in the county has an 'A' player. Tuesday should be a lot of fun. For her sake, I hope she pulls it out."

Berube's biggest threat comes from last year's runner-up, Stephanie Rodney of Central. Rodney arrives averaging 40.6 shots per nine holes.

Central skipper Vicki Weaver sees medalist honors boiling down to three players: Berube, Rodney and Elliott.

"Those are three quality golfers," described Weaver.

Hernando head coach Casey Ellis believes her foreign exchange student, junior Eugenia Urso, will also factor in the low-medalist race.

"I think it'll be fun to watch four girls (Berube, Rodney, Elliott and Urso) battle for number one," she said. "Team-wise, Springstead is hands down and by far the best team in the tournament. They're absolutely the team to beat.

"The suspense lies on which of the team's number ones finishes number one on such a short course."

Elliott arrives ranked third in the circuit in scoring at 44.9 while Urso is at 45.0.


Past Hernando County Boys Golf Champions

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Past Team Champions


2011 Spring Hill-Springstead 336 Sonny Long

2010 Spring Hill-Springstead 318 Sonny Long

2009 Spring Hill-Springstead 331 Sonny Long

2008 Spring Hill-Springstead 335 Sonny Long

2007 Brooksville-Central 321 Gary Morton

2006 Brooksville-Central 314 Gary Morton

2005 Brooksville-Central 328 Gary Morton

2004 Brooksville-Central 150* Gary Morton

2003 Brooksville-Central 338= Gary Morton

2002 Brooksville-Central 317= Gary Morton

2001 Brooksville-Hernando 301 Pete Lahey

* Denotes 9-hole tourney total

= Denotes GCAC Tourney


Past Hernando County Girls Golf Champions

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Past Team Champions


2011 Spring Hill-Springstead 195* Kathleen Long

2010 Spring Hill-Springstead 182* Kathleen Long

2009 Spring Hill-Springstead 305 Kathleen Long

2008 Spring Hill-Springstead No Tourney Kathleen Long

2007 Brooksville-Hernando 431 Kevin Bittinger

2006 Brooksville-Hernando 456 Kevin Bittinger

2005 Brooksville-NCT 455 Greg Champagne

2004 Brooksville-Hernando 458= Brent Gaustad

* Denotes 9-hole tourney total

= Denotes GCAC Tourney (HHS placed 3rd overall)

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