EAST MANATEE -- Lakewood Ranch's boys golf team enters this week's Class 3A state tournament at Mission Inn in Howey-in-the-Hills looking for more than a state championship.
The Mustangs are searching for a piece of history, the program's third consecutive state title, which would tie the now defunct Bradenton Prep's record.
That record is for the entire state of Florida.
And when it comes to area programs, Ranch's potential third straight state crown is a unique achievement across any high school sport among Manatee County schools.
No football, volleyball, basketball (boys and girls), soccer (boys and girls), baseball or softball program has won three state titles in a row from the area.
"Based on this season, we have a good chance," said senior Ramsey Touchberry, who is committed to the University of Florida. "We've had a really good season, and a lot of record-breaking numbers, which I think is what's important. We've mentioned it a little bit. We haven't really sat down and had a serious conversation about it, but it's just something that's always in the back of our minds so we know it's possible. Every now and then, the word three-peat will come up."
But Ranch has an excellent chance to accomplish the feat, with a rotation that features Touchberry, senior Danny Walker (University of Virginia commit), Luke Miller, Kelly Sun and Charlie Sun.
They've inspired each other to the tune of a 137-5 record this season. But that record isn't a bunch of dual matches, but rather mirrors a college season of several 18-hole tournaments.
And that's precisely what
head coach Dave Frantz pointed to as a key reason for the recent success at the state level for the Mustangs.
"The main thing that I should have realized probably early in my career ... would be to set up a college schedule," Frantz said. "It has made the difference, not only how much experience my golfers have gotten, but it's made a difference in how the program is perceived. And part of psychology of our team is the idea we are a team that goes to states. That's what we do. We win championships, we win tournaments."
Another special caveat to this fall's campaign is that it is coinciding with Frantz's last year at the helm.
The longtime area golf coach, who also had a stint at Southeast, is retiring following the season. He was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame last January.
"It also coincides with just more family time," Frantz said.
With the pedigree in place, the Mustangs have the chance to pull off the unique three-peat beginning Tuesday on the El Campeon course, which was the site of the first state championship for the program in 2011.
The course poses some challenge as it usually gets windy.
But neither the conditions are the top challengers, such as Lithia Newsome and West Orange, are in the minds of the players, whose focus separates them from most teams.
"We're just going to try and play our own game out there," Miller said. "And not worry about what anyone else is doing. ... It's just golf, it's just another tournament, so you shouldn't put too much hype over it."
With the success of golf, the culture at Lakewood Ranch High School has changed with the team getting recognition from classmates.
"We've tried to make golf the big sport at Lakewood," Touchberry said. "A lot of kids do realize it, especially that are friends with us. ... They've gotten used to their school's golf team is the best in the state. As far as athletic talent goes, they think golf is still pretty easy. But they still know it's a pretty big accomplishment to win these state championships. We've changed their viewpoint about the stereotypical golfer a little bit."
Manatee's Tomeo in title hunt
Manatee's Gianna Tomeo is participating in the Class 3A girls tournament, which is being held at Mission Inn's Las Colinas course.
Tomeo, a junior, is playing in her third state tournament.
She qualified by winning the regional tournament at Capri Isles Golf Club in Venice two weeks ago with a 73. Tomeo qualified as an individual and begins play off No. 1 at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
She's paired with Orlando Olympia's Madison Lellyo and Cantonment Tate's Miranda Holt.