This year’s Lakewood Ranch girls golf team is a lot like the 2015 version that made their first journey to the state tournament.
They’re a young group.
But that’s where the similarities end.
Three players on last year’s team didn’t return to the Mustangs. Katie Kroos-Roberts and Sophia Warren opted not to play high school golf this fall, while Theresa Morrissey transferred to Bayshore.
Still, this year’s Mustangs squad is pretty good.
Lakewood Ranch flexed its golfing skills with a 338 total, which earned the Mustangs the Class 3A-Region 5 title by five shots over Naples Gulf Coast at Venice’s Capri Isles Golf Club on Monday.
It’s the second straight region title for the Mustangs, which means a return trip to the 3A state tournament.
That tournament is slated for next Tuesday and Wednesday at Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills.
“We started slow. I know Gulf Coast was playing really good when they first started,” Lakewood Ranch head coach David Lamm said. “But my girls just kind of hung in there and as the day went along, we played better. And luckily for us, we were able to be on top.”
Aiding the Mustangs ascent to a repeat region crown were Maya Isom and Natalie Robson.
Both fired 79s and both were members of last year’s team. Isom, the lone senior on this year’s team, didn’t compete at states last year.
On Monday, she saved par several times after she said she lost focused on the front nine.
“I knew I needed to make up for my scores on the front, so I just really was focusing on par,” Isom said.
Robson, a sophomore, dropped a par on the first hole and the early confidence booster followed her to the par-3 sixth hole, where she birdied.
“I had a three-putt on the hole before, and yeah, I made up for it,” Robson said.
Meanwhile, Manatee junior Gabrielle Tomeo is heading back to states for a third straight year. She finished with a 1-over par 73 to take one of the two individual berths up for grabs.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on an advancing team qualified for next week’s state tournament.
Tomeo was one shot behind Plant City’s Taylor Dedmen for medalist honors.
An eagle on the 440-yard par-4 fifth hole jumpstarted Tomeo’s stellar front nine. However, some lip-out putts, including a short one on the 18th hole, sent Tomeo to a 73.
“It is kind of bothersome for me to come out here and see 73 when I know it should’ve been 72 or lower, but what are you going to do,” Tomeo said.
Manatee’s Danielle Wolfe also competed, shooting 96.
However, the day belonged to the Mustangs with Isom and Robson taking sixth and fifth place, respectively, in the individual standings.
The top six players received ribbons.
Ashlyn Einwachter (89), Darby Laurvick (93) and Ashley Ringo (91) rounded out Lakewood Ranch, which returns to the 3A state tournament after taking seventh place in 2015.
Lamm said this year’s goal is the same as last year: to build for the future by realizing how to get to states and gaining that experience.
“Realistically, this year is about next year,” Lamm said. “And next year is about the year after. The whole idea is to build the girls and they get better, so they can go play college golf somewhere.”