Sounds like it was a miserable day for golf Wednesday as the
PIAA Tournament concluded with team competition in boys and girls Class AAA and
AA at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort (somehow the Inter-Ac League held its
tournament Wednesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course and we
have some basic results in Thursday’s Daily
Times print edition and on GameTime Pa., but I will expand on that later in
the week), but there were some interesting results despite the conditions.
As I predicted, Mount St. Joseph senior Isabella DiLisio
finished her scholastic career in fine fashion with a 78, but it wasn’t enough
to lift the Mount to a second straight team title. Central Valley, which was a
Class AA program as recently as two years ago when the Radnor girls were
winning the Class AAA team title, edged the Mount by four shots to win the
Class AAA team title.
Central Valley’s Maddy McDaniel had the only round better in
Class AAA than DiLisio’s in the cold, rainy and windy conditions with a 75.
DiLisio, who told The
Times Herald’s Rick Kauffman, that she was devastated when she failed to
advance out of the East Regional and get a shot at repeating as the PIAA Class
AAA champion, did her best to make it two straight team titles for the Mount.
DiLisio’s dad told me Tuesday at Heritage Hills that Isabella will continue her
golf and academic careers at Notre Dame.
The Class AAA boys team title went to Catholic League
champion St. Joseph’s Prep, which I
believe is the first state golf championship for a Catholic League and District
12 representative, although it seemed like it was just a matter of time before
La Salle or the Prep won a state team title.
The Prep displayed remarkable balance in winning the title
by just three shots over Scranton Prep. Jack Mitchell led the way for the Prep
with a 79. The Hawks’ four other players, Paul Mauer, Nick Calabrese, Alex
Butler and Mike Burns, all shot 81. So
one of the 81s didn’t matter as the Prep finished with a 322 total.
I’m not sure if any of the Prep’s players is a Delco resident,
but I do know one of their dads is a Delco native. Paul Mauer’s father Paul is
a fellow Archbishop Carroll Class of 1973 graduate of mine (and fellow St.
Denis graduate and fellow Shawnee Road resident) and a fellow veteran of the
Merion Golf Club caddyshack. The elder Mauer is the manager of Stonewell, the
gorgeous 36-hole complex carved out of farm country in northwestern Chester
County. Stonewall will play host to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 2016.
District One did grab one of the team titles at Heritage
Hills as Roland Massimino, grandson of Rollie Massimino, coach of Villanova’s
Cinderella 1985 NCAA men’s basketball championship team, led New Hope-Solebury
to a narrow one-shot victory over Sewickley Academy for the Class AA title.
Massimino posted a remarkable even-par 72 in the tough conditions as New
Hope-Solebury had a 333 total.
The Class AA girls title went to Villa Maria from District
10 with a 389 total.
In addition to DiLisio wrapping up her scholastic career at
Heritage Hills, Tuesday’s second round of the individual competition was the
last go-round for Pennsbury senior Jackie Rogowicz and, like DiLisio, is was a
decorated career indeed.
Rogowicz struggled with the putter Tuesday, but still
managed a 79, which got her a share of fifth place and one last state medal.
She has been, very simply, right in the thick of things in the last three
Rogowicz won her second District One title this fall and she
was second to DiLisio at districts when the two of them, just sophomores,
opened the tournament with 66s at Gilbertsville Golf Club’s Red and White
nines. Rogowicz was the runnerup to Council Rock North’s Erica Herr when Herr
won her second straight state title in 2012 and was the runnerup in 2013 when
DiLisio grabbed the title with a dramatic eagle at the last hole.
And there she was Tuesday in the final group, once again
contending for a state title right to the end.
Rogowicz, as I mentioned in a post last week, is headed to
Penn State and the Nittany Lions’ head coach Denise St. Pierre had a smile on
her face as she watched the last two groups in the Class AAA field. Of the
eight players, she has successfully recruited four of them. I mentioned last
week that Rogowicz, Villa Maria’s Cara Basso and Council Rock North junior
Madelein Herr are headed for Penn State, but St. Pierre’s stable of talent will
also include Canon-McMillan senior Lauren Waller, who battled Radnor’s Brynn
Walker shot for shot in the final round before finally settling for second when
Walker birdied the first hole of a playoff.
In previewing the state tournament, I guessed that the
winner would probably come from a strong District One contingent and with
Walker taking the title, that assessment proved correct.
But District Seven, led by Waller’s runnerup finish, made
plenty of noise. Gateway junior Johnna Beehner, who played in the final group
with Walker, Waller and Rogowicz, finished in a tie for third with Peters
Township sophomore Mia Kness, giving District Seven three of the top four
Rogowicz shared fifth with Allison Cooper of Central Dauphin
and District Three. Cooper has been a fixture at the state tournament the last
couple of years as well.
The District One crowd was prominent among the rest of the
top finishers as Owen J. Roberts junior Maddie Sager and Council Rock North’s
Herr shared seventh place with another District Seven representative, Central
Valley’s McDaniel. Villa Maria’s Basso was 10th, Unionville junior
Kate Evanko was 11th and Coatesville junior Sammi Staudt was 12th.
Which brings us to the champion, Radnor’s Walker. As I
mentioned in my report that appeared in Wednesday’s Daily Times print edition, for as long as she hits it, it was
Walker’s grit that won her the title.
It looked like she had the title won when she hit a 5-iron
stiff at the tough par-3 15th hole for a birdie that gave her a
two-shot cushion on Waller with three holes play. But 16 and 17 at Heritage
Hills are really tricky holes, especially when a state title is so close you
can taste it.
Walker hit a poor first putt on 16, leaving herself five feet
for par and she couldn’t make it for a three-putt bogey.
“I thought I was actually going to make it through a round
here without a three-putt, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” Walker said
A poor approach at 17 left her with at least a 60-foot putt.
She left her first putt about 12 feet short and then hit a really good putt
that just missed falling in on the low side. Suddenly the two-shot lead was gone,
but if Walker was feeling the pressure, she never let it show.
She striped her drive at the par-5 18th and
drilled a 4-iron over the water to 22 feet. Waller did a great job getting her
second shot on the green in two as well and nestled a lag putt up close. Walker
had an eagle putt to win it and very nearly made it.
More than an hour later – a ridiculously long wait for a playoff
for a state title in a typically curious decision by the PIAA – Walker got up
on the ninth tee and smashed a driver 275 yards, deftly chipped it to a foot
and a half away and made the putt for a birdie and a state championship.
Afterward, she related some advice she learned as a
fledgling golfer about match play, which is essentially what she and Waller
were engaged in for the last nine holes and the playoff.
“My grandpa told me if you’re in match play, always assume
the other player is going to birdie the hole or chip in or get the best
possible result,” Walker said alongside the ninth green at Heritage Hills amid
an impromptu celebration among family and friends. “You can’t ever count on the
other player playing poorly. You have to play good.”
When Walker had to, that’s exactly what she did.