The Marauders were regional winners last season. They're planning for more success.
By LAURA LEE
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002
CLEARWATER -- The training, the schedule, the attitude. A casual observer might think Clearwater Central Catholic was intent on upholding a longstanding winning tradition. But that tradition doesn't exist in golf. Not yet anyway. But with an unexpected trip to the state tournament last year, the Marauders are beginning to think it could.
"They know what good play is all about and they're trying to find it and trying to elevate themselves," coach Brian Lysak said. "This year I think they feel like they belong."
CCC has practically everyone back from last year's regional championship squad. The Marauders are experienced, deep and yet have only one senior. Lysak said his top six can shoot par any time.
Instead of approaching this season with the usual practice rounds and matches, Lysak decided the team should be pushed and tested a little extra.
The Marauders are starting a program at the Morton Plant Wellness Center that will give them access to a trainer to work with them on golf-specific exercises. Lysak said it is important that they work on flexibility, range of motion, strength and conditioning. Team captain Patrick Scranton, a senior who plays in the No. 1 spot, suggested the idea. Scranton, troubled with a back injury early last season, began working with the center about a year ago. He said he works out six days a week and has lost 20 pounds of fat, gained 15 pounds of muscle and added 25 yards.
"It's made me a better player and I want the team to improve," Scranton said. He shot 3 under in the season's first match, a win against Berkeley Prep and Tampa Catholic. CCC had a low 150, ahead of Berkeley's 156 and Tampa's 168. Aside from the fitness training, Lysak has tried to make the schedule significantly more challenging. He organized a tournament for Sept. 21 at the Belleair Country Club, the course where he works as a golf pro. State powers such as Berkeley Prep, Lakewood Ranch, Saddlebrook and Wharton have accepted invitations to play.
Most of CCC's players are looking forward to the tough competition of the invitational, especially the team's two newest members -- Rodrigo Suarez and David Lopez-Monar. The two transferred from Saddlebrook's prestigious golf academy to CCC this year.
"I'm looking forward to playing Saddlebrook," Suarez said. While Suarez and Lopez-Monar, whose parents moved them to CCC for academic reasons, didn't compete on Saddlebrook's team, they continue to work with their personal golf coach. Their teammates say their professional training has rubbed off on them.
"They've become a huge asset to our team already," said junior Dan Humboldt. "Not only with the golf but with the leadership aspect. They've set an example. They know what it takes to be the best in the area."
Lysak said the newcomers have become leaders through their actions.
"They're not flashy. They're not trying to get the spotlight. They just quietly go out there and shoot par or better," he said.
The coach knows his team looks good on paper, but it's a long way to the postseason. The players say they'll be back. "We're twice as good," said junior Zach Zehnder.
Lysak hopes the tough regular-season schedule will prepare the Marauders and take some of the awe out of competing with the state's elite golfers.
"I know there's a lot of talent out there in Florida," Lysak said. "Hopefully, we're right there with them."