Cardinals capture District 32-6A boys team title in dominating fashion

HARLINGEN — After settling for second place at the 2016 District 32-6A golf tournament, the Harlingen High boys team didn’t want to have to play second fiddle to anyone this year.

And after firing a season-low 294 on Tuesday, the Cards cruised to the league championship and, more importantly, earned a trip back to regionals.

“The guys just came out ready to play,” said Harlingen head coach Chris Milligan. “They have played so well all year long, but we all know that you have to show up and play well at the district tournament in order to claim the title and advance. The rest of the year is just a memory at this point.

“We learned the harsh reality last year coming up just a few shots short at district after we dominated all year. The guys were just ready to make their mark and make a statement that this title was theirs.”

Led by Cole Charvat, who shot a 71 on Tuesday, and Dylan Martinez, who fired a second-round 74, the Cards won by a whopping 51 strokes over second-place Weslaco High, which also advanced to regionals as the runners-up.

However, despite Charvat’s two-day total of 145, Brownsville Hanna’s Santiago Garcia was one stroke better as the junior shot a 144 to grab his second consecutive individual league championship and earn a return trip to San Antonio later this month.

Meanwhile, Harlingen South’s Brandon Garza also punched his ticket to regionals by shooting a two-day total of 155.

The boys Region IV-6A tournament is set for April 26-27 at Republic Golf Course in San Antonio.

On the girls side of things, Los Fresnos won the team crown by shooting a second-round 331 to finish with a 667 total. Briana Garza, who narrowly missed out on making regionals last year, redeemed herself on Tuesday by not only qualifying, but also by winning the individual title.

Garza fired a round-two 71 to beat out Weslaco’s Anika Hovda by two strokes.

The day was not all lost for Hovda, however, as her two-day 146 was enough to earn her a regional berth.

The same could not be said for her teammates, however, as the Lady Panthers fell prey to Brownsville Hanna, which surged on Tuesday to secure the second team spot in San Antonio with a two-day score of 711.

Heading into Tuesday, Hanna and Weslaco were tied at 360. But thanks to Victoria Garcia’s second-round 84 and Alexis Rodriguez’s 87, the Lady Golden Eagles secured their second straight trip to the 6A tournament.

And while the day belonged to the Harlingen boys, one HHS girl will be joining the guys in the Alamo City.

Sophomore Micaela Leandro, who shot an 86 on Monday, rallied to fire a 76 on Tuesday and moved on to regionals.

“This was a big step for Micaela,” said Milligan. Breaking through this ceiling at this time is huge for her confidence moving forward, especially in the manner that she did it by buckling down and shooting her low round of the year on Day 2 to qualify.

“I’m very excited to watch her game continue to develop these next few years.”

The girls Region IV-6A tourney is set for April 24-25, also at Republic Golf Club.