2002 Sun All-Area golf team

Threesome rise to top


Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2003 at 11:08 p.m.
During the high school golf season, Buchholz's Bobby Gates Jr. and Oak Hall's Tyler Rucarean both enjoyed considerable success, but did so simultaneously in separate classifications.
"I have a lot of respect for Tyler because he's such a tremendous athlete, and can do well in both golf and basketball," Gates said. "I spend a lot of time away from home, and it's nice to play with some good local players when I'm here. Hopefully we can get the teams together next year. I'm sure everyone would enjoy that."
The pair met only twice this season, with Gates edging out Rucarean in an early season matchup at Columbia's eight-team invitational tournament in August, and again besting Rucarean by two strokes (68-70) at the Alachua County Boy's Golf Championship in October.
"It's a lot of fun having a nationally renowned player in the area," Rucarean said. "Playing against him makes me try harder, and I'm sure it's the same for him. We bring out the best in each other."
Aside from his win at the Alachua County tournament, Gates shot a 69 to earn the District 3-2A title, and then shot a 72 to finish second at the Region 2-2A tournament in Ocala.
At the same time, Rucarean's runner-up finish at the Alachua County tournament was followed by a five-stroke (69-74) win over P.K. Yonge's David Dilibero at the District 3-A tournament, and a third-place finish at the Region 2-A tournament, at which Dilibero took home medalist honors.
The parallels continued, as Gates led his Bobcats to district and regional team titles, and Rucarean did the same for the Eagles, giving Oak Hall its third consecutive district title, first regional win and first trip to the state tournament.
At the state tournament at the PGA Golf Village in Port St. Lucie though, Rucarean had the upperhand, shooting a two-round 141 to tie for third place in the Class A event while leading the Eagles to a sixth-place overall finish. Poor weather got the best of Gates, whose 148 landed him in 19th place in 2A, but helped the Bobcats to an 11th-place effort.
"We had fun just playing golf, and we had fun all year," Gates said. "We won districts and regionals, and it was nice to know that if you have a bad day, you still have four other guys there to help you out. It's nice to be part of a group united as one with the same goals and aspirations, and to come together and play well was fun."
While both players eagerly await their senior seasons and the possibility of meeting in the regular season, there is still a long offseason and summer of national competition that goes along with the search for a college golf program.
For Williston's Tiffany Prats, that search is over, as she excitedly prepares for her July departure for the University of Miami and the world of collegiate competition.
"I've played pretty solid for four years, and I'm glad to be going off to college," said Prats, who lost only one match in her high school career, which ended with district and regional titles and a fourth-place finish at the 2002 Class A state tournament. "I can't wait. It's going to be so much fun playing college golf. We have a great coach and an awesome schedule, and it will be nice being on my own."
With the academic, emotional and financial support of her parents, Prats was home-schooled and had the best golf coaches they could find, but now it's time to see how far she can go by herself.
"My parents got me this far, but being on my own will help me get further," Prats said. "It's when I'm going to find out how bad I want to go on to the next level."
Matt Cannizzaro can be reached at (352) 374-5066 or sunpreps@hotmail.com.

OAK HALL

  • Oak Hall boys golf coach John Gaston may have the youngest team in the area, but the Eagles' have also proven to be one of the most talented.
    After an early season runner-up finish at Columbia's invitational tournament, Oak Hall went on to claim its first Alachua County championship with a two-stroke win over P.K. Yonge.
    The Eagles' success continued with their third consecutive District 3-A title, and their postseason experience paid off with a first-ever regional title and a trip to the state tournament.
    "It was a dream come true," Gaston said. "We started out with such a young group, and (state) was something that was so far down the road.
    "As the kids stuck with it and grew up, we knew we had a chance to do something special."
    Gaston's sixth season ended with a sixth-place showing at the state event, led by Rucarean's 141 and third-place effort.
    And while the Eagles' scorecard will surely miss lone senior John Bovay and his 37 stroke average, everyone else will return for the 2003 season with another trip to state as motivation.
    "We finally had the scores to pick from this year, with five or six people capable of shooting under par at any time," Rucarean said. "We now know we can get there, so we feel like we can contend and really compete with the best."

    GIRLS CO-COACH OF THE YEAR

    Bubba McGowan

    BUCHHOLZ

  • Bubba McGowan is the only girls golf coach Buchholz High has ever known, and his continued success has set some pretty high standards for the Bobcats to play up to.
    Without five major contributors from last year's team that finished fourth in the state, McGowan entered his 15th season with a bit of uncertainty.
    "We just didn't know what we had to begin with," McGowan said. "But things started getting better, and the players improved during the year. By the end, we were really surprised by our finish at state, but it was outstanding."
    Led by senior Caroline White, the Bobcats burst into the 2002 season with a 13-1 mark, a district title and a runner-up finish at the regional tournament that sent them back to state.
    Buchholz's surprising success ended with a third consecutive top-five finish at the state event (5th), and while the Bobcats lose White, Cheri Hurt and Angie Kapec to graduation, McGowan looks forward to doing it all over again next year.
    "It's all been fun," McGowan said. "I'm just looking forward to every year."

    GIRLS CO-COACH OF THE YEAR

    Scott Frey

    OAK HALL

  • Longtime tennis coach Scott Frey, who led the Oak Hall girls tennis team to last year's state tournament, started playing golf five years ago, and thought it would be a fun change to add the role of golf coach to his resume.
    Frey notes the similarities between the two sports, from the weight distribution to the soft hands, but modestly left out his success as a third parallel.
    After a 5-11 effort in 2001, Frey came on to help the Eagles to a 16-2 mark in just their third season of existence, followed by district and regional titles and a 12th-place finish at the Class A state tournament.
    "I think it was a sure success, but we set (state) as a goal all along," Frey said. "My goal has always been to win every time we play, and I don't know how else to approach it."
    Frey also attributes a lot of the team's success to the work ethic and dedication from Buchholz transfers Cristina and Gabi Aguirre, who shared the values and hard work they learned from Bobcats coach Bubba McGowan.
    "At the beginning of the year I told the team I wanted to go undefeated and get to state," Frey said. "We went out there and worked at it, and that's the only way to get good at anything."
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