Stars par for course
By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
BROOKSVILLE -- Most schools feel lucky to have one superior golfer every few years.
But blessed with two?
Hernando seems to keep at least two in stock at all times.
Despite a major talent drain with the graduation of Matt Johnson and Chandler Beasley, the Leopards return All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference first-teamers Keegan Ledford and -- most likely -- Fred Farmer, a regional qualifier last year.
The Hernando girls have back arguably the top player on the North Suncoast in sophomore Tara Allen and another prime performer in junior Alison Frazier. Both made the All-GCAC first team a season ago.
"I would hope they'd do even better than last year," Leopards coach Darlene Kufner said of her girls. "If not, it would be very disappointing. I'm counting on them."
In more than one way. Behind Allen and Frazier is a passel of underclassmen in need of confidence and direction. Kufner hopes her leaders help instill both.
"The new ones are starting from scratch," she said. "Both (Allen and Frazier) are young ladies. They do not lose their temper, they lead on the field, and I know they'll try to help the younger girls."
Boys coach Pete Lahey likely will have Ledford and Farmer back, although Farmer has yet to attend practice or complete paperwork to play. He qualified for the state tournament as a freshman.
Lahey hopes Farmer returns, but said he won't pursue the standout golfer.
"Some of the kids asked me if I'd talked to him, and I told them it's not my thing to do that," Lahey said. "If he comes out, fine."
Hernando finished 16-1 in the regular season a year ago but placed last in the Class A, District 6 Tournament when Ledford and James Meier were disqualified.
Meier was booted after an argument with Saddlebrook Academy's Connor Doherty. Ledford tossed a ball into a pond, claiming it had a cut on it. He was disqualified for not following procedure by showing it to an official first.
None of the county's other squads figure to be as strong as Hernando. But each, theoretically, has a potential medalist.
Senior Mario DeAngelis returns to Springstead after qualifying for the Eagles' regional as an individual last season. Classmate Mike Belle is the program's next most-experienced player but is a drop-off from DeAngelis.
After that, Springstead is inexperienced, with junior Mike Rachesky and sophomore Tyler Coleman possible late-season contributors for coach Scott Bennett.
Central's boys return sophomore Grey Gonzalez, an All-GCAC first-teamer. On the girls side, the Bears have been taken over by Lori Lessley. Central will sorely miss Francesca Gonzalez, a former All-Citrus/Hernando Player of the Year. Katie McCabe should become the team's No. 1 golfer.
Springstead's girls are cinching their expectations lower in what appears to be a total rebuilding year.
"Our goal is to improve every match," coach Evelene Bennett said. "We have some who've never played before. I want them to be ready to know the rules and improve by some strokes."
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