Jay Nash thought his Cardinal Mooney boys golf team was consistent last season.
This year’s group of Cougars took it up another notch.
From getting a pair of three-under-par 69s from Noah Kumar and Jake Nash to 1-over-par 73s from Robbie Higgins and Wyatt Plattner to a 2-over-par 74 from Jake Hebda, Cardinal Mooney captured the Class 1A-District 16 title, the first by the Cougars since 2008-09.
Cardinal Mooney shot 284 to knock off two-time defending district champion Saint Stephen’s by 18 strokes. Saint Stephen’s (302) and Out-of-Door Academy (312) also advance to next week’s regional tournament along with the top three individuals not from those teams: Sarasota Christian’s Roman Soloman (84) and Tony Zhang (86), and Bradenton Christian’s Bryson Morishita (92).
On the girls’ side, only two schools fielded full teams. Saint Stephen’s made it seven straight district titles with a 113-shot victory over Out-of-Door Academy, 320-433. Sicilia Xie of Sarasota Christian advanced as the only individual, as all 10 girls who competed moved on.
The 1A-Region 6 meet will begin 8:30 a.m., Monday at Laurel Oak in Sarasota.
“I feel good about it, but we still have to play golf,” Jay Nash said of his team’s chances at the regionals.
The Cougars’ 284 was two shots off their best score of 282 in the Riverview Invitational at Heritage Oaks.
“Last year, too, two really strong years,” Jay Nash said of his team’s consistency. “This year more so. Even if they play poorly, they still stay within that range.”
The coach credits the fun-filled ribbing among the players.
“That’s all they do. It’s more ham and eggin’ and teasing, poking fun at each other,” Jay Nash said. “I think that makes them play better.”
No individual played better than Out-of-Door’s Jake Naese. The sophomore was 5-under-par through 12 holes and carded five birdies with one bogey for a low round of 68 to earn medalist honors.
“Mostly my short game,” Naese said on what was working Tuesday. “I missed in the right spots when I had to miss.”
Playing on the Thunder’s home course, Naese had a feeling he was due for a strong round, even after struggling lately.
“This is definitely a good round, but I knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time,” he said. “From the first tee, I felt ready and prepared. Just ready to shoot a good score. Conditions were scoreable. There were some good pins and some pins you had to back off.”
Maria Haung of Saint Stephen’s shot the only under-par round on the girls’ side with a 71.
After going about two months without good results from her putter, Haung got the flat stick working Tuesday.
“I just keep working on my stuff and it worked,” she said.
Haung made three birdies and two bogeys.
“It was an easy course,” said the sophomore, who shot 80-80-160 as a freshman last year at the state tournament, a score she hopes to improve on if she qualifies at next week’s regionals.
Catherine Huang (74), Angel Dai (87) and Bella O’Donnell (88) also scored for Saint Stephen’s.