Lakewood Ranch polishes off state record-tying third straight championship

Lakewood Ranch polishes off state record-tying third straight championship

jdill@bradenton.comNovember 7, 2013 

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS -- Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team are state champions again.

For the third consecutive year, the Mustangs downed the competition en route to a state title with the latest coming in the inaugural Class 3A finals held at Mission Inn Golf & Resort's El Campeon Course in Howey-in-the-Hills on Wednesday.

Ranch (152-5) became the first public school Florida history to win three consecutive FHSAA state crowns when the Mustangs 593 total was 15 shots better than runner-up Lithia Newsome.

The record tied the now defunct Bradenton Prep, who is the only other program to accomplish the feat.

In addition, Ranch set program records for victories in a season and state tournament total, besting its previous mark of 594 by one shot. That was set in 2010 when the Mustangs finished runner-up.

Since then, an undefeated campaign in 2011 was backed up with state titles in 2012 and on Wednesday.

"I see this as probably our best team top-to-bottom, just because the front three are under par or at par every time," Lakewood Ranch head coach Dave Frantz said.

Entering the tournament, the Mustangs were the prohibitive favorites with a front three consisting of seniors Ramsey Touchberry (University of Florida commit) and Danny Walker (University of Virginia commit) and junior Luke Miller (interest from Virginia, Duke and Wake Forest).

"There's nothing else that can be done, so we're pretty excited about it," Walker said.

The program's No. 4, Kelly Sun, won the prestigious Donald Ross Memorial Invitational's individual crown and his brother Charlie Sun provided the backend of the Mustangs powerful lineup.

In Wednesday's final round, the Mustangs entered with a seven-shot lead over Vero Beach and faced easier conditions as the wind was not as severe as the one-two club swirling stuff that plagued the field in Tuesday's first round.

As a byproduct, three Ranch players went lower on day two than they did in their opening round.

Walker posted a 2-under par 70, while Miller also went below par with a 71. Charlie Sun had an 80, while Touchberry's 74 rounded out the four scores used to tally the 295 second-round total in completing the target goal of cracking 600.

"It's pretty special," Miller said. "To be on a team that I played for on two years that won two state championships … I don't know if there's any team in the nation that wins three in a row and always has a chance to compete."

Both Touchberry and Walker earned state medals on the individual side, too.

The duo, members of the team each year since the freshman campaign that netted the program a runner-up trophy, finishes tied for second and tied for sixth place, respectively.

Touchberry, in fact, had a chance to win the state title on the individual portion of the event when he headed to the 17th hole.

He needed a birdie on one of the final two holes to match Davenport Ridge Community's Sam Horsfield, who was the leader in the clubhouse with a 5-under par 139.

Instead, Touchberry double bogeyed the par-5 17th and ultimately took a tie for second with playing partner Tyler Bakich, of Lithia Newsome, after the pair posted 142s.

"The one person I'd want to lose to in this field is Sam Horsfield," Touchberry said. "Everybody knows he is the man. He wins the Florida Amateur by a dozen strokes, and you've just got to have respect for the guy."

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