Newsome golfers climb leaderboards
The boys team went to regionals each of its first three years of play. The girls aren't far behind.
By BRYAN BURNS
Published October 21, 2005
LITHIA - When asked to name the area's top programs in boys golf, Newsome High School does not spring to mind. Not yet, anyway. Newsome, in just its third year, simply hasn't been around long enough to be considered a traditional power.
Coach Dale Peters is hoping more seasons like the first three will change that.
"We're hoping we're starting a tradition here at Newsome," Peters said.
In three seasons of play, Newsome has emerged as one of the up-and-coming programs in Class A, qualifying for the regional tournament all three years. In 2004, the team finished second in the region to advance to the state tournament.
This season, Newsome took home its first district title, edging Tampa Prep in a sudden-death playoff. The team narrowly missed a second-consecutive state appearance Tuesday after losing a playoff to Jesuit for the final state berth at the regional tournament.
"We've really stepped it up this year," Peters said. "We feel that other teams look at our score and say Newsome is a team to beat."
Seniors Chris Zumpano and Craig Copack and junior Brad Little have been together for all three Newsome seasons. Their cohesion has played a major role in Newsome's success.
"They always want to play together," Peters said. "They try to correct each other. If one messes up, someone else will make up the difference."
Zumpano, who led the team with a 9-hole, 38.7 average, lost a playoff to Tampa Prep's Davis Miller to finish second in the district. Part of his success he attributes to an equipment change late in the year.
"I switched putters two days before districts," Zumpano said. "I had nothing to lose as far as I was concerned. It always seems like my putter costs me the most strokes."
Copack and Little each posted a 39.3 average and shared time switching between the No. 2 and 3 position on the team. The two also shared a similar experience: coming down with an unexpected injury right before a major tournament.
"Last year at districts, I got stung by a bee on my middle finger and couldn't play," Copack said. "(Brad) cuts his hand pretty badly two days before regionals. We've been faced with adversity during some critical times."
Little, however, was able to play in the regional tournament at Westchase Golf Club and posted the team's lowest score, a two-over par 74. He finished fourth overall in the region.
Senior Mackenzie Grooms and freshman Charles Kurtz round out Newsome's regional team.
"We mesh together on and off the course," Copack said. "That stems a lot from our coach. He's a jokester and really laid back. That contributes to the atmosphere of the team."
The girls team at Newsome was successful as well this season, advancing to the regional tournament where it placed third. Jessica Alexander led Newsome with an 11-over par 83. The team shot 368 overall, 25 higher than second place Tampa Prep (343).
"We really stress the fun of (golf) at Newsome," Peters said. "You want them to do well, but you want them to have fun and enjoy it. A lot of them have siblings that will be coming out for the team in future years."
[Last modified October 20, 2005, 10:29:05]
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