Plenty of positives for Hawks after first day at state golf tournament


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Viera's Briana Gabe shot a 75 on the first day of the Class 3A state championship tournament at the Mission Inn & Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills on Tuesday. The Hawks are tied for ninth going into the final round.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS – The Viera High girls golf team took a lot of positives out of the first round of the Class 3A state tournament on Tuesday.

Top players Mary Kate Smith and Briana Gabe both shot 75 and freshman Ana Maria Tea shot an 87 as the Hawks finished the day tied for ninth place with Doral.

“I’m very excited for (Ana Maria),” Viera coach Greg Ford said. “Her first state tournament and she came out and came out and played strong. She’s had two tournaments in a row where she’s played some of her best golf. I’m excited for that.

“Bri and Mary Kate played their solid game, but they just couldn’t make putts today. It was just one of those things … but’s it’s OK. It’s all good.”

Senior Melissa Luciani shot 102 and freshman Heart Gerosano came in at 112 for Viera on Tuesday.

The Hawks have been playing all year without top player Manon Donche-Gay, who has been dealing with a family health situation.

That has put more pressure on Smith, a senior, and Gabe, a junior, to not only lead the Hawks on the course, but to do what they can to help mentor the younger, less experienced players as well.

Gabe was happy with the way she was able to play on the back nine Tuesday after struggling a little bit on the front side.

“I couldn’t get the greens right until the back nine,” she said. “They’re just really hard to read. I just didn’t make my birdie putts at all.”

Though she may not have gotten those birdies, Gabe did reach one goal.

“I’ve always wanted to do a nine-hole stretch of just getting pars and I did that,” she said.

Overall, the junior was happy with the way she and her younger teammates were able to get through the round.

“We’re doing pretty good,” Gabe said. “I’m really proud of the girls, especially Ana, for dealing with the nerves and playing well at her first state, because that’s a hard task to do. She played really well.

“Melissa and Heart, I’m proud of them (too). They gave it their best.”

Given that the Hawks have been without Donche-Gay all season, the fact that they were able to win their 11th straight district championship and qualify for the state tournament is quite an accomplishment in itself.

Ford said his goal for this year’s team was to finish in the top 10 and heading into today’s final round at the Mission Inn & Resort, that’s exactly where the Hawks find themselves after shooting a score of 339.

Viera will enter the final round hoping it can improve its position even more by chasing down eighth-place Bartram Trail (331), or perhaps even No. 7 Spanish River (330).

“It was a big accomplishment to get here in the first place,” Gabe said. “This is better than I expected us to play, so I’m really happy about it.”