Boys golf has a storied history at Saint Stephen’s that includes a pair of state championships, a trio of prep All-Americans, and a lengthy roster of successful collegiate and professional performers.
In 2000, Tyler Leon led the Falcons to their first FHSAA state team title and carded rounds of 66 and 69 to capture the individual crown. Two years later, as a senior, Leon was named an All-American and signed with Oklahoma State, where he helped the Cowboys win the 2006 NCAA Championship. He went on to play professionally in 11 PGA Tour events.
The Falcons also won the state title in 2004, led by two-time team captain Michael Amato. Amato was runner-up for Florida player of the year honors that season and later starred at Brown University.
The list of prominent SSES alumni also includes All-Americans Leif Olson (1998) and Mike Barbosa (1999). Olson was a four-year team captain for the Falcons before attending Duke University. He was a key player with the Blue Devils before turning pro in 2004. Olson teed off in 23 PGA Tour events during his career. His best season came in 2009, when he made the cut five times, finished third in the Turning Stone Resort Championship, and earned more than $400,000. Barbosa starred at Georgia Tech and qualified to play in the U.S. Open as an amateur in 2011.
Other notable Falcons who have gone on to play in college include current touring pro Sean Kelly (South Carolina), brothers Scott and Rick Lamb (Santa Clara), Ryan Benevides (Rice), Jordan Wycoff (Rider), Connor Lynch (Brown), and Jack Cen (Cornell).
Recent Saint Stephen’s teams have kept the tradition alive. The 2016 Falcons recorded a dominating regular season, going undefeated and winning by an average of 22 strokes. They then went on to win their first district title since 2012, and notched their third straight regional championship and state tournament appearance. At the state tournament, the Falcons placed third, just two strokes out of second and nine behind champion Windermere Prep.
With only David Gao (who signed to play at Rollins College) moving on, the Falcons appear poised to make a run at their first state championship since 2004. Seniors Massimo Mbetse and Ryan Kinkead, and sophomores David Hu and Alan Klenor were the Falcons’ four top scorers at the 2016 state tournament, and all return with solid credentials. Kinkead took medalist honors as the Falcons won the Manatee County Golf Championship for the first time in 2016. Mbetse shot 69 to win the regional tournament, and Klenor shot 76-77 to post the best score for SSES at the state tournament and finished tied for tenth.
The Falcons have been coached by PGA Professional Matt Primrose since 2008. He has led SSES to five state tournament appearances – with a high finish of third – and is a two-time winner of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune High School Coach of the Year award, in 2009 and 2014.
Golf is FHSAA sanctioned and is a fall season sport.