AVON PARK - The Sebring girls golf team took full advantage of hosting the Class 2A-Region 6 golf tournament on Monday, as the Blue Streaks finished in second place at Highlands Ridge North.
The runner-up finish qualified Sebring for the state finals next week.
"Home course was absolutely big," said fourth-year Sebring coach Lisa Lovett. "But it also helped that we were reassigned to a new region. We had been competing against a lot of big power schools from the Orlando area, but now that we've gotten thrust into a region with a level playing field, we've been able to do some damage."
Tampa's Academy of Holy Names finished first with a sizzling 320, and the Jaguars were paced by Emmy Martin, who led all players with a 67.
Freshman phenom Kendall Griffin continued to pace the Blue Streaks, as she finished with a 71 and fourth overall, to guide Sebring into second with a 346.
Osceloa finished third with a total of 386, followed by Winter Haven in fourth at 418. Auburndale was fifth with 422, followed by Robinson in sixth with 443, while Armwood was last, tallying 486.
Meanwhile, Boca Ciega (Sadie Chlapowski 83), Lake Wales (Meredith McKenna 83), Tampa Jefferson (Shreve Teresa 112), Lennard (Morgan Beachum 114), Spoto (Karra Luanglath 165), and Lake Gibson (Amanda Gartrell 70, Lynsy Snapp 99) did not have enough players to qualify for a team score.
Despite her first year on the Streaks, Griffin has been taking much of the success of this season in stride.
"I was super excited today," Griffin said. "I know the course, and all the members are really nice - it just had that home feel."
"And this is my first year, so it's not like I know what it's like not to go to state, but I knew it was going to be tough. I'm just really excited to go there with this group of girls."
Similar to the boys golf team, it's been quite a long time since the girls went to state. But this year, for the first time in school history, both of Sebring's teams will be going onto the state tournament.
Play for both teams begins on Tuesday, and the two-day event will carry into Wednesday. The practice round is scheduled for Monday.
Mission Inn Resort and Club at Howey-in-the-Hills will host the tournament, and Lovett knows that competition only gets stiffer from here.
"A lot of private schools are in the mix now," she said. "It's a different course than we're used to and the girls will definitely be playing against some of the state's best. But we're excited; we're ready to go."
Other scores from Sebring included Meghan Griffin's 88, which was good for second-best on the team. Megan Crews was next with a 93, followed by Avie Clark who shot a 94. Teresa Ware rounded out the quintet, shooting a 129.
Winter Haven's Athena Yang and Lake Gibson's Amanda Gartrell both advanced to state as individuals. Yang finished with an impressive 68 to pace the Blue Devils, while Gartrell led the Braves with a 70.
Individual medalists included Griffin, Yang, Gartrell, along with Osceloa's Haydyn Gibson, who shot a 76.
"I'm really proud of the girls," Lovett said. "This is a major milestone. We've finally gotten into a region in which we can compete and we're proving that we can win now that the playing field is more level."