Panthers going to 3A state golf tournament

Nease Secures Redemption and State Tournament Spot in Region 1 Golf Tournament

In an unexpected turn of events, the Nease Panthers boys team and their senior player Ryan Nicholson found redemption and secured a spot in the Class 3A state tournament. Just a week after suffering a decisive loss to Fleming Island in the District 3-3A tournament, Nease came back strong and clinched victory in the Region 1-3A tournament at the St. Johns Golf Club. The team finished with an impressive score of 4-over 288, defeating Creekside by eight shots.

Nicholson, along with his teammate Chase McBride, tied for second place with Tyler Mawhinney and Dylan Frein of Fleming Island, all shooting an impressive 1-under 70. They were just one shot behind the tournament’s medalist, Bryson Hughes of Creekside.

What made this victory even sweeter for Nicholson was the fact that it took place exactly one year after he was disqualified from the previous year’s Region 1 tournament. Nicholson had been reported by another coach for violating Rule 4.3 (4) by watching a video of a shot he had previously taken in that same round. This disqualification cost his team dearly, as they had to count a player who shot 83. Had Nicholson finished close to par, Nease would have likely qualified for the state tournament. But this year, he was determined to make amends and lead his team to victory.

Coach Steve Horner was proud of his team’s performance, especially considering their disappointing runner-up finish in the previous tournament. He credited their preparation for the turnaround and praised Nicholson for his resilience and ability to overcome the setback from the previous year. Horner expressed his satisfaction in seeing his senior player finally get the opportunity to play in the state tournament.

With their victory, Nease secured their spot in the state tournament, while Fleming Island finished third by just one stroke, narrowly missing out on qualification. However, Fleming Island still has a chance at an at-large bid to the state tournament, as eight additional teams and eight individual players will be named later this week by the FHSAA.

Meanwhile, in the girls Region 1-2A tournament, Ponte Vedra’s streak of consecutive appearances in the state tournament was in jeopardy as they were stunned by South Walton by just one shot. Beachside claimed the region championship with a score of 14-over 302, finishing 15 shots ahead of South Walton. Karlee Gainey of Lake City Columbia was the tournament’s medalist, shooting an impressive 69, while Alexandra Gazzoli of Matanzas secured the second individual qualifying spot with a score of 70.

Beachside was led by Ralienne Nacional and Sofia Rivera, who tied for fourth and sixth place, respectively. On the other hand, Ponte Vedra’s chances at the state tournament now depend on an at-large bid, as injuries have affected their team’s performance.

In other regional tournaments, Ponte Vedra’s boys team emerged victorious in the 1-2A tournament, Episcopal’s boys team won the 1-1A tournament, and Bolles claimed victory in the girls 1-1A tournament. The state tournaments will take place in November at Mission Inn Resort, with different dates for each class.


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