Viera golf teams focused on reaching state tournament


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Briana Gabe, left, and Morgan Bentley are the only two seniors on this year's Viera High girls golf team, which is hoping to make it back to the state tournament despite playing in a tougher district and region.

CARL KOTALA

The Viera High School boys and girls golf teams might have undergone some changes this season, but the goal still is the same: Playing at the Mission Inn Resort with a shot at winning the state championship.

“I think this team has a chance to make it to state,” Viera girls coach Greg Ford said. “Our goal is always to get there. We’re just going to have to do what we can do to get there. “They’ll work hard. They’ll be fine.”

Viera’s girls have won 11 district tournaments in a row and have been regular visitors to Howey-in-the-Hills for the state competition. However, this year’s team is a much younger group with only two seniors — Briana Gabe and Morgan Bentley.

The boys team, meanwhile, has its third coach in three years. But Brian Hoffman, who was an assistant coach last year, believes his group has a shot at making it to state and is trying to get his players to concentrate on each postseason tournament as it comes.

“We have the firepower this year to do it, so that’s what we’re hoping for,” Hoffman said. “Our top four guys are all in the 30s, anywhere from a 36 par to 39. Our fifth and sixth guys are in the low 40s. It makes for a well-rounded, complete (group of) six guys on the team, which I think is going to benefit us going into the postseason.”

Although the Viera boys team did not qualify for the state tournament last year, Sam Karman advanced to Howey-in-the-Hills as an individual.

This year’s postseason tournaments will be much tougher after the FHSAA enlarged the districts and reshuffled the regions. Viera is now in the same district with Melbourne, Lake Nona and Vero Beach with three of those teams advancing to the regionals.

Karman has been sharing the No. 1 spot this season with senior Douglas Gearhart. Senior Dylan Melby has been playing No. 3, followed by sophomore Chris Hoffman, senior Jacob Melby and junior Nitai Zipp.

“We didn’t lose anybody from last year that played in districts or regionals, so that will be good,” Karman said. “We’ve just got to execute when it comes time.”

For Viera’s girls, Gabe is the No. 1 player and team leader. Freshman Rebecca Luchs is at No. 2 and another freshman, Brittany Odic, plays either No. 3 or 4. The team also has two young players who were on last year’s team that went to state — Heart Gerosano and Ana Maria Tea.

“We’re definitely a younger team this year,” Gabe said. “It’s not going to be as easy as it was in the past, but we definitely have a shot. We just all need to play our best.”