The Winter Park High boys and girls golf teams are off to a hot start and hope to make a strong run through the season.
The start of the high-school golf season is always a tough one.
Between the oppressive heat and seemingly constant rain, just getting in matches can be difficult.
But despite all of the early cancellations — of which there have been a few — it doesn’t seem to have slowed down the Winter Park boys and girls golf teams, as both have gotten off to strong starts so far this season.
In the case of girls head coach Joe DiFrancesco, things are going well in his first year as the coach of the girls golf team.
“It’s been pretty good — the girls really have embraced having a new coach this year, which is a big plus,” DiFrancesco said. “When someone new comes in — regardless of who they are — it takes some time, but the seniors have really been great with me.”
His ‘Cats started off with a strong showing in a lightning shortened, five-hole tri-match showdown with Boone and Colonial. The Wildcats finished first with a combined team score of 89. Star sophomore Emily McLatchey led with her impressive score of 19.
The weather has continued to wreak havoc on the season for the girls team. The match at Lake Howell was outright cancelled, and the matchup with Lake Highland Prep was called for inclement weather after just two holes.
One would think all the disturbances could throw a team off, but that’s not been the case with this year’s squad. Instead, the Wildcats followed up the delays with a close 167-168 win over Timber Creek. Once again, it was McLatchey who led the way — this time shooting one-over-par 37 — while senior Kenzie Potter shot a 39.
“She’s (McLatchey) our No. 1, and she has consistently done well — she was plus-one our last match (against Timber Creek) and the course was pretty tough that day with mud spots,” DiFrancesco said. “She wasn’t happy with it, but she was the medalist that day. She has really done a great job.”
DiFrancesco also has gotten a lot of help — both on and off the course — from his three seniors. Through the early part of the season Potter, Nicole Rave-Torres and Rylee McCully have helped lead by example, and it’s something the underclassmen have really caught on to, DiFrancesco said.
“The biggest thing I’m seeing is their consistency — not only during our matches but also during practices,” DiFrancesco said. “They really have come out with a lot of focus and they really are taking it very seriously, (while) also having a good attitude about it.”
BOYS GOLF KEEPS ROLLING
After finishing in third place at last season’s state tourney, the Wildcats boys golf team is keeping up the pace with multiple wins through its first three matches.
In Winter Park’s first match of the season at the Winter Park Invitational at Rio Pinar, the Wildcats came up just short and finished in second place. Junior Brandon Boncore’s 72 led the ‘Cats.
But despite the strong finish, losing out to Circle Christian — for the second-consecutive year — left a bad taste in the mouth of the team, which may have actually been a good thing, head coach Rob Robison said.
“That kind of motivated them,” Robison said. “Then we played out at the Wolverine Invitational out at Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Pointe, and the guys just put it together.”
Along with shooting a program best 279 as a team to take first place, sophomore Michael Mays had one of the best shooting days in the history of the Winter Park program — finishing an incredible seven-under-par to finish the tournament with a 65.
“I’ve never seen that from anyone in our program,” Robison said. “He was just in the zone and played great.”
As far as the rest of the team goes, senior Drew Lanier provides the senior leadership, while sophomore Andrew Clark provides the consistency and analytics the team needs. Boncore — who last year suffered a minor wrist injury that threw off his game — has provided the comeback inspiration for his teammates, and Stephen Hickham plays the role of the ever-grinding spark plug.
“Our goal every year — from the first day in August that we can get together until the district tournament — is to get better every single day,” Robison said.