Viera girls finish seventh, gain valuable experience at state golf tournament


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The Viera High girls team featuring (from l-r) Manon Donche-Gay, Samantha Brimhall, Trinity Falzone, Briana Gabe and Mary Kate Smith finished seventh at this year's Class 3A state tournament.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

In order to win a state championship, you have to know what it feels like to play for one.

Consider those seeds planted.

The Viera High girls golf team bettered its score by two strokes Wednesday to finish seventh with a two-day score of 664 at the Class 3A state championships at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills.

“We were excited to be here,” Viera coach Greg Ford said. “When you’re building a program, there’s no substitute for playing in the state tournament. You have to be here and play in it in order to get better.

“And when you’re young, that’s what happens. You get better and better and better.”

Sophomore Manon Donche-Gay led the Hawks by shooting 77 on both days for a two-day score of 154.

Samantha Brimhall, the only senior on this year’s roster, shot 84 and 85 for a total of 169. Freshman Briana Gabe was next with a pair of 85s for a score of 170.

Sophomore Mary Kate Smith followed up her opening round score of 87 with an 84 for a total of 171. Junior Trinity Falzone shot a 92 and 87 for a total of 179.

“I think we all gave a really good effort, that’s for sure,” Brimhall said. “The cards just weren’t in our favor. We had some tough conditions with us.

“I’m really proud of our effort, but we didn’t score as well as we were hoping for.”

At last week’s regional tournament at the Royal St. Cloud, the Hawks combined to shoot 304, which was the lowest qualifying score in the state. But it wasn’t to be this week.

Brimhall, who was a sophomore on Viera’s 2014 state championship team, played the final round of her high school career on Wednesday.

“I was thinking about it at the end. I started getting a little nervous,” Brimhall said. “Just emotions running through me … and some adrenaline. Obviously, you want to finish on a good note.”

The senior certainly gave it a good run, delivering a shot on the 18th hole from 160 yards out that landed roughly 20 feet from the pin and drew an ovation from the crowd. Her birdie attempt just lipped out.

Looking back on her Viera High career, Brimhall was effusive about the good time she had as a Hawk.

“It really has been (a good career),” she said. “We made it to states all four years. I got to play at states all four years. Some years were better than others, but definitely, it’s been fun.”

The senior also expects the Hawks to be back in contention for another state title in the not-so-distant future.

“This team going into the future … I wish I could reverse and become a freshman again,” she said. “This team has a lot of potential.”

As Ford pointed out, the Viera team that won the state championship in 2010 was made up primarily of seniors and the Hawks did not qualify for the state tournament the following season.

Viera lost five seniors from its 2015 team and still managed to make it back to the state tournament.

“To come in and shoot what we did in districts (324) and especially in regionals (304) to get here – and to be the low score when we got here – was exceptional,” Ford said. “They worked hard and they deserved to be here.

“We’ll continue to work hard and get better. The program is headed in the right direction, as always. … We’ve to a lot of good things to look forward to.”