Viera's Liu grabs share of lead at state golf; Sierota 2 shots back


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Viera High's Calvin Sierota hits out of a bunker on the 9th hole at the Class 3A state golf tournament. Sierota shot 75 and is two shots off the lead.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

HOWIE-IN-THE-HILLS – Only two players in the entire Class 3A state golf tournament field shot under par on Tuesday.

Viera High’s Sophie Liu was one of them.

The senior shot a 4-under 68 in the first round at the Mission Inn & Resort and will go into today’s final pairing as the co-leader with sophomore Alyssa Lamoureux of Seminole.

Viera sophomore Calvin Sierota, meanwhile, may not have broken par, but his 75 has him just two shots off the pace on a very crowded leaderboard.

In other words, we could be in for one heck of a finish.

“I had a pretty decent, pretty consistent round today,” Liu said. “Fairways, greens and putts were all pretty on point. I just tried to give myself the best chances and putts dropped, shots got really close to the hole.

“I’m grateful for that. I was pretty lucky today, too. A lot of things just worked together.”

The Viera girls team, defending Class 3A champions, will enter the final round 10 shots out of first. The Hawks shot 309 Tuesday. Lake Mary came in at 299 and Niceville had a 303.

In addition to Liu’s 68, the Hawks got a 78 from Taylor Rajeski, an 81 from Samantha Brimhall and an 82 from Dayna Owens. Katie Arnott had a 92.

“Overall, the same thing happened where – with the exception of Sophie – each player had one or two holes (where they struggled),” Viera coach Greg Ford said. “It’s been that way all year. But 309 is only three off our average. It’s not too bad.

“We knew Lake Mary was going to be tough. But we’re in the lead group, and that’s what counts.”

Sierota, who tied for fifth in the state as a freshman last year, overcame a rough start in which he bogeyed three of his first four holes to play even-par the rest of the way. His 75 put him in a six-way tie for seventh place behind a pair of players who shot 73. Melbourne’s Chase Cutshall shot 74.

There are 14 players within three shots of the leaders.

“The greens were slopey where the pins were,” Sierota said. “You had to be pretty on-spot with your shots to have any makeable putts.

“For how I started, to keep it even after that, I’ll take that.”

In addition to Sierota’s 75, the Hawks got an 80 from junior Tyler Greek, an 84 from senior Kyle Decenzo and an 87 from Mitchell Albright. Senior Ryan Rozic shot 90.

As a team, the Viera boys came in at 326, which put them in 11th place after the first round.

The Hawks will start play Wednesday at 8:54 a.m. on the El Campeon course. Once again, Viera will start on the back nine.

While making a run at the team title will be tough – the Hawks are 17 shots behind leader Lake Mary – Sierota is very much in contention for the individual title.

“Now I know how the greens are going to be (so) I should play pretty well tomorrow,” Sierota said. “If I hit the ball as good as I did today, I should be pretty good.”

Viera’s girls will have a tough challenge in their quest to become the first team in school history to repeat as state champion, but they know it’s not impossible. In fact, in the Class 2A tournament, Archbishop McCarthy trailed American Heritage by 10 shots after the first day and came back to win the state title in a playoff.

Arnott will be the first Viera player to tee off on Wednesday at 9:39 a.m. on the Las Colinas course.

“It’s one of our goals on the second day to be in the lead group, because you can make things happen,” Ford said. “I told them (Monday night) you can’t win it on the first day, but you can sure lose it.

“We didn’t lose it. I still like my team. I wouldn’t give them up for anybody.”

Liu, meanwhile, will try to follow up her 68 – which included an eagle on her fourth hole – with another solid round that could mean an individual state championship.

“Sophie is so unwavering,” Ford said. “She gets out there and if something bad happens, it does not affect her. It’s very, very impressive for a 17-year-old.”