The reigning district champions from Crystal River must enjoy visiting Hernando County. It's like a home away from Plantation Inn.
Monday's six-hour, eight-team Class 1A, District 8 Tournament had more of a ceremonial feel. There was absolutely no surprise among teams on who would win this meet. It seemed more like a coronation.
The Pirates, guided by veteran skipper Jere DeFoor, claimed their fourth straight district crown – the third on Hernando County soil during that stretch – by a whopping 34 strokes, 313-347.
The next stop for the top three teams from 1A-8 and top three individuals not associated with those teams is the 1A-Region III Tournament Oct. 23 at Wesley Chapel's Saddlebrook Resort.
"It's a great win," declared DeFoor. "I'm just going along for the ride. Our kids, their dads, granddads and their swing coaches were all here."
Pirate senior Travis Swanson achieved school history by being a member of four straight district championship teams.
"This was special," added DeFoor, whose team qualified for states in 2011. "The kids have been playing this way all year long. Now we're looking forward to returning to regionals."
The Pirates were led by sophomore Matt Allen's 18-hole 38-36—74, good for second place overall in the 42-member field.
The Pirates, who finished 14-2 during the regular season, claimed their second tournament crown in a week – after capturing the hotly contested Citrus County Championship, edging Citrus and Lecanto in the process.
The final team scores were so lopsided that the Citrus County crew didn't even bother to return to what turned out to be the most dramatic finish.
Due to darkness late Monday evening, three second-place teams – Dunnellon, Hernando and Nature Coast – returned to the 6,227-yard layout at The Dunes on Tuesday to determine which of two of the deadlocked squads and three individuals would advance to regionals.
On a dry and mildly warm Tuesday afternoon, the Sharks (21) and Tigers (23) edged Hernando (24) for second and third place respectively following a 64-minute sudden-death playoff on the par-5 first hole.
"This is great," exclaimed Nature Coast skipper Tom Brown following Tuesday's official second-place finish. "We had a string there where we finished fourth for a few years, I'm so glad that's over."
On the Sharks' turnaround, "If you had watched us early in the season, I doubt you would have thought we'd ever reach regionals," added Brown. "I really didn't think we had the pieces. But slowly this team got better and better. Everybody here took small steps forward."
Nature Coast, which shot a 345 total a week ago to finish second in the Hernando County Championship, shot two shots worse on Monday.
The Sharks were led by sophomore Jake Arnett's 1-under-par 36-35—71 total. Arnett's total was three shots better than a week ago.
Arnett's round featured three bogeys (ninth, 11th and 14th holes) and was highlighted by four birdies (third, 15th, 17th and 18th).
The second-year varsity linkster, who arrived ranked third in the county in scoring average at 39.1, grinned from ear-to-ear after capturing low-medalist honors by three shots over Allen.
"I had a great round," admitted the 16-year-old who was a 2011 All- County linkster. "It seemed like I put it all together today. I flew a lot of greens and I was making some real nice putts.
"Overall, it was just a good day."
Under tremendous pressure on Tuesday, Arnett led off with a birdie, which according to Coach Brown helped set the tone.
"Jake is our clear leader," described Coach Brown. "With everyone watching, he birdied that first hole and that really helped us mentally. Then Mike (DeMaria) came through with a huge par.
"And I can't forget Dan (Wempe) – he had the greatest miss I've ever seen and the ball ran right up to the green to help us out."
After Arnett followed the senior DeMaria (43-41—84), junior Joe Powanda (49-41—90), the freshman Wempe (53-49—102) and junior Brandon LaMondra (56-61—117).
DeMaria also improved from last week, shaving off four shots.
The Leopards were ecstatic to make Tuesday's playoff. Hernando's goal was to shave 10 shots off its total from last week. Instead, head coach Kevin Magilligan's crew shot an identical 347.
On Tuesday, Magilligan's young team hit the proverbial wall, officially finishing fourth.
"I wasn't expecting us in this position," candidly stated Coach Magilligan. "The kids put us in a position to compete today. We gave it our best shot. We most definitely had the youngest team out here. I'm tickled pink about the future.
"I'm just glad Cody's going."
Once again leading the way for the Leopards was junior Cody Montgomery.
Montgomery, who arrived ranked second in the county in scoring (38.2 per nine holes), fired a team-leading 3-over-par 37-38—75 total. His round eclipsed a 77 total from a week ago.
Montgomery's total was good enough to join Weeki Wachee sophomore Michael Rampino and Pasco senior Austin Riddaugh as individual qualifiers for next week's regional tournament.
Montgomery, a two-time All-County selection, enjoyed a mixed bag on Monday.
On the negative side, Montgomery suffered four bogeys (first, eighth, 14th and 15th) and three double bogeys.
On the plus side, he bagged five birdies (third, fifth, ninth, 10th and 16th) and closed his round with an eagle on the par-5 18th hole.
"I'm satisfied with a 75. That's not bad for this course," pointed out the 17-year-old Montgomery. "The greens had a lot of lips. Overall I had a lot of ups and downs today. I was staring at a 42 on the backside before I birdied the last two holes and eagled the 18th.
"I'll admit I left a lot (of shots) out there, but this course isn't easy," he added. "Overall, I had a lot of fun today."
Following Montgomery was senior Brandon Lawson (47-40—87), sophomore Daniel Merritt III (46-44—90), and freshmen Clay Everett (48-47—95) and Pierce Kimbrough (57-51—108).
The remainder of team standings featured Pasco (357), South Sumter (381), host Weeki Wachee (393) and Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian (515). Bishop McLaughlin Catholic brought three players and finished with no team score.
Weeki Wachee, which improved by one stroke from the Hernando County Championship, will be represented for the first time at regionals by Rampino.
Rampino, who arrived averaging 43.8, carded a team-best 38-41—79 total to qualify.
2012 Class 1A, District 8 Tournament
1. Crystal River 313, 2 Nature Coast 347*, 3. Dunnellon 347*, 4. Hernando 347, 5. Pasco 357, 6. South Sumter 381, 7. Weeki Wachee 393, 8. Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian 515, 9. Bishop McLaughlin NTS
(*Won sudden playoff to advance to regionals).
Individual results (18 holes):
CRYSTAL RIVER (313) – Matt Allen 38-36—74, Michael Kidd 38-37—75, Kyle Kidd 36-39—75, Travis Swanson 41-48—89, Kyle Velasco 48-49—97.
DUNNELLON (347) – Bryce Thalacker 41-38—79, Ryan Malloy 41-43—84, Michael Beach 44-47—91, Alex Nonnemacher 45-48—93, Tanner Bergeron 88-61—149.
NATURE COAST (347) – Jake Arnett 36-35—71, Mike Demaria 43-41—84, Joe Powanda 49-41—90, Dan Wempe 53-49—102, Brandon LaMondra 56-61—117.
HERNANDO (347) – Cody Montgomery 37-38—75, Brandon Lawson 47-40—87, Daniel Merritt III 46-44—90, Clay Everett 48-47—95. Pierce Kimbrough 57-51—108.
PASCO (357) – Austin Riddaugh 42-40—82, Clint Tedder 39-44—83, Austin Pelt 44-51—95, Garrett Dixon 49-48—97, Blaine Duncan 53-49—102.
SOUTH SUMTER (381) – Justin Carroll 42-45—87, Laramy Stickland 89, Winston Rice 48-51—99, Peter Ashley 106, Austin Duell 56-53—109.
WEEKI WACHEE (393) – Michael Rampino 38-41—79, John Gula 42-44—86, Christian Braz 57-51—108, Ty Ennis 58-62—120, Ben Doring 54-71—125.
SEVEN RIVERS CHRISTIAN (515) – Adam Gage 43-42—85, Zach Daniel 52-58—110, London McGuffy 132, Chris Russ 184.
BISHOP McLAUGHLIN (NTS) – Andrew Ciocia 47-45—92, Casey Fenton 49-54—103, Sebastian Zacarias 59-53—112.
Final Class 1A, District 8 Top 8 Individual Results:
PL NAME SCH YR TOTAL
1. Jake Arnett NCT 10 36-35—71
2. Matt Allen CR 10 38-36—74
3. Kyle Kidd CR 10 36-39—75
3. Michael Kidd CR 12 38-37—75
3. Cody Montgomery* HER 11 37-38—75
6. Michael Rampino* WW 10 38-41—79
6. Bryce Thalacker DUN 11 41-38—79
8. Austin Riddaugh* PAS 12 42-40—82
* Will advance as individuals to Class 1A, Region III Tournament at Saddlebrook.