High school golf preview: Benjamin's Caroline Araskog hopes for state title
Thursday, September 06, 2012
by Matt Porter
Spanish River's Christina Ocampo was one of Palm Beach County junior golf's brightest stars during the past few seasons. She was a two-time Class 2A state champion and now plays for the University of Miami.
It would be unfair to place similar expectations on anyone, but Benjamin junior Caroline Araskog wants to follow the same path.
As a sophomore, Araskog won district and regional titles and finished two strokes behind the Class 1A state champion to tie for second place.
"There is an abundance of golf talent in Florida overall, and South Florida in particular, but she would be on the short list of potential state champions," Benjamin girls golf coach Jamie McVicar said. "She was extremely close last year."
She also gives Benjamin hope for a run at state in a competetive Class 1A field. The Bucs will have to contend with American Heritage, which won regionals and finished fourth at state despite having no seniors among its top-five golfers.
That means greater expectations this year. The Stallions' No. 1, senior Ashley Burke, shot a career-low 31 in a round this week. She's not the only player that gets coach Donna Serino talking.
"I had a seventh-grader (Sabrina Fonda) shoot 38. I don't know where that came from," Serino said, laughing. "We're pretty excited."
St. Andrew's, which was regional runner-up to Heritage, returns its four lowest scorers, including senior Marissa Kay and junior Casey Farmer, who shot a 72 at regionals.
Park Vista loses one top-five player from its Class 2A regional championship team. Seniors Samantha Coleman (78 at regionals) Katelin Glass (80) finished sixth and seventh at regionals.
Wellington, last year's 2A regional runners-up, returns its two best players, junior Janelle Johnson and senior Mary Dixon. Likewise Santaluces, which brings back juniors Radi Sauvo (fifth at regionals) and Kaitlyn Gribbon (ninth).
Like Spanish River with Ocampo, Cardinal Newman's boys team was fortunate to have Chase Koepka and Conor Richardson for the past four years. In that time, the Crusaders finished second, third, first and fourth at state. However, junior Sawyer Shaw, who tied for second at regionals and tied for 23rd at state, and sophomore Michael Conforti are coming off strong state finishes.
St. Andrew's will also be tough to stop. The Scots finished seventh at the Class 1A state meet and return four of the five players from that squad: seniors Michael Boylan, who tied for 28th with a 6-over 74-76--150, Jonathan Newnham, Michael Wilhelm and junior Ethan Marcus. At state, those four finished tied for 51st or higher.
"I think they all improved over the summer," St. Andrew's coach Michael Meredith said. "I have a couple young players who made the team who are good players. We'll see if we can find a fifth."
Benjamin should be hard to beat in regionals with senior Clancy Waugh, who won the tournament last year and tied for 10th at state, along with sophomore Jalen Ledger and freshman Charlie Kennerly.
American Heritage, led by sophomore Jack Shoenfeld, will compete with St. Andrew's in their district.
Park Vista returns four of the five players that turned in a 13th-place finish at Class 2A state last season. Junior Ryan Lynch (T-43), sophomores Josh August (T-52) and Ryan Mason (T-69) and junior Jordan Jeffries (T-92) are the area's top finishers from that tournament returning to play this fall.
Jupiter, Wellington and Spanish River have plans to compete at the regional level, and possibly send a few golfers to state, which for 2A boys will be held at Deer Island in Tavares. The 2A girls will play at Harbor Hills in Lady Lake. Both 1A tournaments are at Mission Inn in Howey-in-the-Hills.
Sept 21-22: The Honda Classic High School Invitational at PGA National's Championship course. Top area teams, plus statewide contenders.
Oct 15-16: district tournaments
Oct. 22-23: regional tournaments
Oct. 30-31: state finals
Boys Top 5 Players
Michael Boylan, St. Andrew's, Sr.: Tied for 28th at Class 1A state with a 6-over 74-76--150.
Jonathan Newnham, St. Andrew's, Sr: Finished second at districts and regionals, tied for 33rd at state.
Jalen Ledger, Benjamin, So.: Finished tied for fifth at 7-1A regionals with a 74.
Sawyer Shaw, Cardinal Newman, Jr: Tied for second at regionals, finished tied for 23rd at Class 1A state.
Clancy Waugh, Benjamin, Sr: Area's top returning state finisher shot a 1-over at states, tied for 10th.
Boys Top 5 Teams
American Heritage: Young, but should be talented enough to make regional noise.
Benjamin: Just missed qualifying for state with young team, falling in regional playoff to Newman.
Cardinal Newman: Tough to replace past stars, but Crusaders still plenty talented.
Park Vista: Returns four of five players from a 13th-place state squad.
St. Andrew's: Lost low scorer from seventh-place state finishers, but returns four others.
Girls Top 5 Players
Caroline Araskog, Benjamin, Jr.: Finished two strokes behind 1A state champion to tie for second place after winning districts and regionals.
Alexandra Papell, West Boca Raton, Sr.: Won regionals, then led at 2A state after first day before finishing seventh.
Ashley Burke, American Heritage, Sr.: Shot 70 to win districts, finished fourth at regionals with a 72 and tied for 22nd at state.
Shyanne Lovan, American Heritage, Fr.: Finished first at districts and finished tied for second at regionals, helping Heritage to a Region 7-1A title.
Marissa Kay, St. Andrew's, Sr.: Placed third in District 21-1A with a 72 and tied for 30th at state.
Girls Top 5 Teams
American Heritage: Won regional title, finished fourth at state without a senior among its top five.
Benjamin: Araskog is area's top returning player, and only a junior.
Park Vista: Returns top four players from regional champions.
St. Andrew's: Returns top four players from regional runners-up.
Wellington: strong core of underclassmen returning from regional runners-up.