Golf teams still have high expectations
Viera's top players this season have been Mary Kate Smith, left, Briana Gabe, Douglas Gearhart and Sam Karman.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
The Viera High School boys and girls golf teams both find themselves in need of a new No. 1 player this season … but for completely different reasons.
While the boys team lost Calvin Sierota to graduation, the girls team is without top player Manon Donche-Gay, who is currently away from the team due to a family health situation.
There is a chance Donche-Gay could return to the team before the end of the season, but in the meantime, the Hawks are getting tremendous play and leadership from senior Mary Kate Smith and junior Briana Gabe.
“We’ve got a young team with some new girls,” Hawks coach Greg Ford said. “We have to find somebody to step in. And I’ll be perfectly honest, I think it’s made those two girls step up. Their games … especially Mary Kate. Oh my gosh.
“If we can keep moving forward like that and I can develop some of these younger ones, then we’ll be OK. Are we going to be what we were with Manon? No. Can we make the state tournament? Yes, I fully believe we can.”
The Hawks, who also are going for their 11th consecutive district championship this season, have one other experienced player in senior Meslissa Luciani, who has been playing in the No. 3 spot.
The rest are newcomers such as freshmen Katie Latham, Heart Gerosano and Anna Maria Tea, sophomores Alexa Baker and Ashley Armitage.
While Viera has become known as a state powerhouse with two titles to its credit, the Hawks aren’t taking anything for granted.
“Our biggest goal is to make it to state,” Smith said. “We can’t contend for state unless we’re there.”
Not only are the Viera boys looking for a new No. 1, they also have a new coach in Gene Trent.
But despite all that, the expectations for the program haven’t changed.
“We can definitely get to regionals,” sophomore Sam Karman said. “We might be able to get to states.”
Karman and junior Douglas Gearhart have been the Hawks’ top two players so far this season with other players like Dylan Melby, Joe Malatino, Billy Barrett, Gage Guettler and Jacob Melby also contributing.
The Hawks also have six promising freshmen who already have shown by their strong play early in the season that they can help the program both now, and in the future.
“The kids are great,” Trent said. “I have 15 guys and every single one of them, they want to play and they want to practice. They’re excited about the game of golf, which you need. You need players to fall in love with the game so they want to learn. Golf is that ultimate smart-man’s game. It really is.”