Sunday, October 19, 2014

Walker is Radnor's latest hope at Heritage Hills

The Heritage Hills Golf Resort has been kind to the Radnor golf program.
  The PIAA Tournament first came to the layout in Springettsbury Township in York County in 2002 and Radnor junior Adam Cohan christened the place by winning the PIAA championship in a playoff. A year later Cohan and Strath Haven’s Conrad Von Borsig staged a memorable head-to-head duel before finishing in a tie for second.
   Three years later with the PIAA staging a team championship in golf for the first time, the Radnor boys grabbed that title in frigid conditions at Heritage Hills.
   Three years later, Radnor senior Jackie Calamaro took control of the girls championship in the first round and never let go in bringing a state championship back to the Main Line.
   Three more years later, with senior Jamie Susanin and freshman Brynn Walker leading the way, the Radnor girls claimed the Class AAA state team title on a sun-splashed day in York County.
   Walker will tee it up in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA Tournament Monday at Heritage Hills and has to be considered a contender for a state title. The junior All-Delco topped the field at last week’s East Regional with a 2-under-par 70 at Golden Oaks Golf Club after struggling to a tie for sixth at the District One Tournament a week earlier.
   Walker has played a lot of golf at a very high level since finishing in a tie for fifth at Heritage Hills a year ago. The St. Davids Golf Club member criss-crossed the country this summer, earning spots in the U.S. Girls Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur championships, rubbing elbows with the top junior players at the inaugural AJGA’s Yani Tseng Invitational.
   When Walker walks on a golf course these days, it is with the full knowledge that she can go under par. She understands that golf being golf, she often won’t get there, but she knows she is fully capable of playing that kind of golf.
   Heritage Hills is a quirky course. Chichester’s Aurora Kan doesn’t finally win a state championship in her fourth try in 2010 if her tee shot at the short par-4 16th hole in the final round, seemingly headed for the creek that borders the right side of the hole, doesn’t instead catch the cart path just short of the creek and instead bound up on the green.
   When Kennett’s Christine Shimel won the state title in 2008, it began an uninterrupted run of champions from District One. Class AA has been added since, but the champion or Class AAA champion has been from District One ever since Shimel won six years ago.
   The Class AAA champion will likely emerge from the group of seven District One players who were among the top eight finishers at last week’s East Regional.
   Chief among them is Pennsbury senior Jackie Rogowicz, who has been the runnerup in Class AAA in each of the last two years and won her second District One title two weeks ago. Rogowicz finished two shots back of Walker in second at Golden Oaks.
   Walker’s pal, Council Rock North junior Madelein Herr, shared third place at Golden Oaks with a 73. Walker and Herr teamed up the week before districts to take medalist honors in qualifying for the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Herr’s older sister Erica won back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012 and very nearly won a third as a senior a year ago.
   Owen J. Roberts’ junior Maddie Sager, who shared fifth place with Walker at Heritage Hills a year ago, finished in a tie for third at the regional with Herr.
   Villa Maria senior Cara Basso was the Class AA state champion as a sophomore and has moved up to Class AAA this fall. She was sixth at Golden Oaks followed by Unionville’s Kate Evanko in seventh and Coatesville’s Sammie Staudt in eighth.
   The stage is set for what figures to be quite a shootout at Heritage Hills.

Lees on a roll on Junior Tour

   Agnes Irwin freshman Kaitlyn Lees made it three straight Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour wins in a row as the Philadelphia Country Club member carded an 89 in windy conditions Saturday to finish atop the 16-to-18 division at the Links Golf Club in Marlton, N.J.
   Lees, the Inter-Ac League champion as a seventh-grader and runnerup as an eighth-grader last spring, had one birdie on her card.
   Maggie Cass of Wayne finished third in the division with a 100 and Radnor junior Caitlin Bullock was fourth with a 110.
   Garnet Valley’s Jake Hudock finished in a tie for fifth in the 16-to-18 boys division with an 85. Luca Jezzeny of Furlong took top honors in the division after finishing in a tie with Ethan Murphy of  Mechanicsburg at 80 and winning a scorecard playoff.
   The day’s best round belonged to Caleb Ryan of Norristown, who had a 1-over 72 over the 6,418-yard, par-71 Links layout to top the 13-to-15 age group. Matthew Davis of Newtown Square finished second with a 79, D.J. Colleran of Radnor was fourth with an 81, Matthew Barkann of Newtown Square was 13th with a 92 and Daniel Bullock of Wayne was 15th with a 95.
   Among the nine-holers, Jackson Fields of Glen Mills finished in a tie for fifth with a 47 and Roy Anderson of Chadds Ford was ninth with a 51. Alex Mulrooney of Wilmington, Del. topped the division with a 38.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Haverford School's depth earned it an Inter-Ac title

   As was noted in the Wednesday print edition of the Daily Times, Haverford School clinched the Inter-Ac League golf championship Tuesday with a six-shot advantage over Malvern Prep in the final mini-tournament hosted by Episcopal Academy at Merion Golf Club’s West Course.
   The Fords saw their run of three straight Inter-Ac titles snapped by Malvern Prep a year ago. Although they lacked an individual star like graduated Cole Berman, who was twice the Daily Times Player of the Year, the Fords’ balance and depth is what carried them to the title this year.
   Otis Baker led the way Tuesday with a 36 at the West (a favorite course of any former Merion looper like myself who got to play there on caddy day Mondays), Jay Losty and Jack Henderson posted 37s, junior Max Siegfried, who emerged as Haverford School’s top player this fall, had a 39, as did Jack McAleese, who was incredibly clutch this fall, and the Fords could take their pick from one of the 40s posted by Matt Grubb and Peter Garnos to round out their 228 total.
   Ryan Bowman, who finished sixth in the overall individual standings, had a 43. But whenever any of Haverford School’s players had a tough day, one of his teammates was always there to pick him up. The 36 McAleese put up when Malvern Prep hosted at Waynesborough Country Club might have been the single round that decided the league title.
   Those final individual regular-season rankings tell the story of Haverford School’s championship. Siegfried finished second behind top-ranked JB Bradbeer of Penn Charter (and a Merion member), Baker was fifth, Bowman sixth, Henderson seventh, Grubb eighth, Losty 13th, Garnos 16th and McAleese, despite not teeing it up in the first mini-tournament of the fall, was 19th. That’s eight players among the top 20 in the most competitive league in the state.
   The top 18 in the individual rankings are automatic qualifiers for the Bert Linton Inter-Ac League Tournament Wednesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course.
   Heading the Episcopal contingent will be Joe Chambers, who finished third in the individual rankings. The Malvern Prep group will be led by Brendan Bacskai, who was fourth in the rankings.
   Haverford School’s final record in the mini-tournaments was 27-2-1 with Malvern Prep the runnerup at 25-4-1 in what was a very tight race all fall.
   Haverford School’s victory Tuesday also made it a moot point that Malvern Prep’s Nick Miller was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard in the next-to-last  mini-tournament,  costing the Friars a victory over Haverford School as the teams ended in a tie that day. The mistake by Miller, who was one of Malvern Prep’s top players all season, did not cost the Friars the title.

Tough day for DiLisio

   The big story – besides, of course, the victory by Radnor junior All-Delco Brynn Walker – at Tuesday’s PIAA East Regional at Golden Oaks Golf Club was the failure of reigning PIAA Class AAA champion Isabella DiLisio to qualify for a return trip to Heritage Hills Golf Resort to defend her title.
   The Mount St. Joseph senior had a couple of bad holes and shot 83 to miss the qualifying cutoff by two shots. The East Regional is the last step to the state tournament, it’s a one-day event and there is no margin for error.
   But DiLisio’s bad day Tuesday takes nothing away from a brilliant scholastic career. She burst on the scene by claiming the District One crown as a sophomore. Her 25-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole at Heritage Hills last fall to snatch the state title away from Council Rock North’s Erica Herr, the reigning two-time state champion, was one of the single most dramatic moments I can recall in more than a decade of covering the state tournament at Heritage Hills.
   And while DiLisio’s career as an individual high school golfer may be over, there is a little matter of the Mount chasing a second straight PIAA Class AAA team title Wednesday. Don’t be surprised if DiLisio goes low in her final scholastic event.
   Despite DiLisio’s stumble at Golden Oaks, District One golfers, led by Walker’s winning total of 2-under 70, dominated as usual.
   Pennsbury’s Jackie Rogowicz, coming off her second straight District One title, finished second at 72, Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr and Owen J. Roberts’ Maddie Sager finished in a tie for third at 73, Villa Maria’s Cara Basso, who won a state title in Class AA two years ago, was sixth at 75, Unionville’s Kate Evanko was seventh at 77 and Coatesville’s Sammie Staudt earned a third trip to the state tournament by finishing eighth with a 78.
   By the way, veteran Penn State coach Denise St. Pierre has hit the District One jackpot. Rogowicz, a two-time state runnerup, and Basso will join the Nittany Lions next fall and Herr, a junior, has made a verbal commitment to join the program in two years. That is some serious talent joining a Penn State program that has been on the rise the last couple of years.

Updike, Colleran look good at Heidelberg

   The Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour stopped for the first time at Heidelberg Country Club Saturday and John Updike of Wayne and D.J. Colleran of Radnor had strong showings.
   Updike finished third in the 13-to-15 division with an 84 and Colleran was two shots back of him in a tie for fourth with an 86. Chase Miller used his local knowledge as a member at Heidelberg to take top honors in the division with a 77 over the 6,282-yard, par-70 layout.
   Also in the division, Andrew Curran of Media finished 14th with a 101.
   Michael Wolf of Drexel Hill finished eighth in the 16-to-18 division with a 94. Campbell Wolf of Enola took division honors with a 78.
   Olivia Traynor of Villanova finished second in the 13-to-15 division with a 100. Rachel Brahler of Pottsville made her Philly Junior Tour debut a winning one with a 98.
   Among the nine-holers, Roy Anderson of Chadds Ford finished fifth with a 47 and Andrew Damico of Havertown finished sixth with a 58. Alex Mulrooney of Wilmington, Del. won the division with a 44.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wallker hopes to take final step at Golden Oaks

   The final stop on the road to the PIAA Tournament tees off Tuesday at the East Regional Tournament at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleetwood.
   Radnor junior All-Delco Brynn Walker will be trying to make it to the Heritage Hills Golf Resort, site of the state tourney, for a third straight year.
   The District One contingent in the girls Class AAA field has historically done well when it comes to advancing to the state tournament out of Golden Oaks and this year should be no exception.
Leading that D-One group is, of course, Mount St. Joseph senior and reigning Class AAA state champion Isabella DiLisio and Pennsbury senior Jackie Rogowicz, coming off her second straight District One title and the runnerup at states each of the last two years.
   Walker struggled in the opening round of the district tournament last week at Gilbertsville Golf Club. The Red and White nines may just be too short for the kind of game the North Carolina recruit brings to the table. The course took driver out her hands a lot, although Walker didn’t play particularly well, by her standards, on Day 2 at a Turtle Creek layout that fits her game a lot better.
   Walker did do what she had to, though, advancing to this week’s regional. That will be her priority again at Golden Oaks because Walker knows the Big Dance is still a week away at Heritage Hills.

Susanin, Kan in the swing

   A couple of female All-Delco golfers of recent vintage were teeing it up last week on the collegiate scene.
   Radnor All-Delco Jamie Susanin, a sophomore at Dartmouth, was the co-leading lady for the Big Green at the Rutgers Invitational, which concluded in some rainy conditions Saturday at the Rutgers University Golf Club.
   Susanin, who led Radnor to the PIAA Class AAA team title as senior in 2012, added a second-round 79 to her opening-round 82 to match fellow sophomore Tara Simmons (78-83) at 161. That left them in a tie for 32nd overall. They led Dartmouth to rounds of 321 and 330 that left it in a tie for 13th in a very competitive field.
   Long Island, led by co-individual medalist Cristina Felip (71-73—144), won the team title with a 608 total, one shot better than host Rutgers.
   Earlier in the week in the middle of the country, 2010 PIAA champion Aurora Kan, a senior at Purdue, had the second-lowest finish for a Boilermaker in the Windy City Collegiate Classic held at Westmoreland Country Club in Wilmette, Ill.
   Kan, a three-time Daily Times Player of the Year while at Chichester, was the model of consistency at the Windy City, which concluded Tuesday, with rounds of 77, 75 and 75 for a 227 total that left her in a tie for 32nd overall.
   Purdue was led by talented sophomore August Kim, who had rounds of 72, 75 and 74 to finish in a tie for 13th at 221.
   The Boilers started fast with a first-round 294 that matched powerhouses Southern Cal and Miami. But Purdue fell back with rounds of 302 and 303 to finish ninth. Purdue bested two of its Big Ten rivals, Minnesota (904, 10th) and Wisconsin (910, 12th) while finishing behind conference foes Northwestern (879, second) and Ohio St. (884, tied for sixth).
   USC’s powerful ladies of Troy, led by individual medalist Annie Park (5-under 211), won the team title with rounds of 294, 287 and 295 for an 876 total that was three shots clear of Northwestern.

Appleget, Steinmetz take Fall Pro-Pro title

   The veteran pair of John Appleget of Wildwood Golf & Country Club, and Rich Steinmetz of Spring-Ford Country Club, proved to be a winning team as they posted a better-ball total of 10-under 62 at Cedarbrook Country Club last week to take the Philadelphia Section PGA’s Fall Pro-Pro championship.
   Appleget and Steinmetz birdied seven of the first nine holes on their way to that 10-under total.
Cardinal O’Hara product Anthony Napoletano, of GolfTEC in King of Prussia, teamed with KImberton Golf Club’s Jimmy Maack for a 5-under 67 and was one of four teams in a tie for fourth.
Among those tied for eighth at 4-under 68 were Radnor Valley Country Club’s Tony Perla and Rick Flesher of Applebrook Golf Club and Mark Sheftic, the director of instruction at Merion Golf Club, and Joe Kogelman of GolfTEC in King of Prussia.
   Among those tied for 14th at 2-under 70 were Media’s John Allen of TaylorMade Golf and Mike Dynda of Meadowbrook Country Club and Stu Ingraham, the teaching pro at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, and Rob Shuey of Colonial Country Club.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Walker Delco's sole survivor; race remains tight in Inter-Ac

   It was a rough couple of days on the links for Delco’s scholastic golfers teeing it up in district tournaments.
   As a result, only Brynn Walker, Radnor’s junior All-Delco, will represent the county when the PIAA East Regional Tournament tees off Tuesday at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Berks County.
Even Walker was probably a little disappointed she didn’t give Pennsbury’s Jackie Rogowicz, who won her second straight Class AAA District One crown, a little more of a fight. Walker, coming off a summer during which she qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior – earning a spot in match play in an event loaded with talent – and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, fired a brilliant 5-under 67 at Turtle Creek Golf Club in the Central League Tournament a week earlier.
   The Turtle was the site of Tuesday’s second round of the district girls tourney, but first Walker had to try to put up some kind of number on the claustrophobic Red and White nines at Gilbertville Golf Club in Monday’s opening round.
   But Walker’s hopes for a top finish in the district tourney were short-circuited by one bad hole at Gilbertsville Monday.
   I caught up with her after a 10 on the par-5 second hole on the Red nine led to an opening-round 74 and Walker was disappointed, but knew she could still live to fight another day by advancing out of the district tournament.
   I was unable to make it up to Turtle Creek for Tuesday’s second round and I’m sure Walker was disappointed with her second-round 77, but she got the job done. Her 151 total left her in sixth place, a distant 14 shots back of Rogowicz, who added a 4-under 68 at the Turtle to her opening-round 69 at Gilbertsville for a 6-under 137 total that was one shot better than her familiar rival, Mount St. Joseph senior Isabella DiLisio, the reigning PIAA Class AAA champion.
   DiLisio matched the brilliant 66 she fired in the opening round at Gilbertsville as a sophomore in Monday’s opening round, leading the Mount to the team title for the second year in a row. She matched par with a 72 at Turtle Creek to finish a shot behind Rogowicz.
   Coatesville’s Samantha Staudt, who received some well-deserved notoriety for making two holes-in-one in a Ches-Mont League dual match a couple of weeks ago, finished third with rounds of 68 at Gilbertsville and 74 at the Turtle.
   Villa Maria Academy’s Cara Basso, the PIAA champion in Class AA as a sophomore two years ago, moved up to AAA this year and finished fourth with a 72 at Gilbertsville and a 71 at Turtle Creek.
   Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr, who teamed with Walker last week to take medalist honors in a qualifier for next year’s inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, added a 71 at the Turtle to her opening-round 74 and finished six shots ahead of her partner in fifth place.
Walker’s Radnor teammates, sophomore Gabby Kim and senior Julia Curley, failed to advance to regionals.
   Kim, whose game continues to improve, added an 82 at the Turtle to her 79 at Gilbertsville for a 161 total. Curley was a shot back at 162 with an 83 at the Turtle to go with her 79 at Gilbertsville. It marked the end of a very productive high school career for Curley, who, like Walker, was a key member of the Raiders’ PIAA Class AAA team champions when she was a sophomore in 2012.
You’ve got to hand it to Rogowicz and DiLisio.  They have a knack for having their games in order for the scholastic postseason every year. DiLisio won the district title as a sophomore and the state title a year ago while Rogowicz made it two straight district titles this week and has been the runnerup at the state tournament each of the last two years.
   It will be interesting to see how that rivalry plays out in the next couple of weeks. And, despite a disappointing week, Walker gave herself a chance to still crash the party at states.
   On the boys side, only Radnor sophomore Michael Sydnes and Penncrest senior Griffin Colvin survived to play the second day at Turtle Creek.
   Sydnes, who opened with a 75, had a 79 Tuesday to finish in a tie for 20th and Colvin added a 78 to his opening-round 77 and finished in a tie for 25th.  Only the top 15 qualified for the East Regional.
   As is always the case, the District One Class AAA fjeld is very, very tough and very, very deep.
Holy Ghost Prep’s Steve Cerbara, a veteran of this event, fired a 4-under 68 Tuesday for a 4-under 140 total that was two shots clear of Jack Melville of Upper Dublin and earned Cerbara the district title. Melville had taken the lead after Monday’s first round with a 70 and matched par with a 72 Tuesday to finish at 2-under 142.
   I’m still working on trying to find some of the details of the team scoring, but Melville led the Cardinals to the team title, a couple of shots ahead of Unionville. Matt Scragle led the way for Unionville, as he shared third place with Spring-Ford’s Matt Keim at 2-over 146.
   Methacton’s Kyle Vance, who had been so impressive in winning the district title as a freshman a year ago, was among four players in a tie for fifth at 148, a group that included Conestoga’s Mike Cook. Conestoga’s Andrew Willner, who was the runnerup at the PIAA Tournament a year ago, remained on the postseason trail as he finished in a tie for ninth at 150.
   Delco’s contingent in Monday’s District 12 Tournament at Melrose Country Club found the going tough as well. Bonner-Prendergast senior All-Delco Quinn Dolan had an 87. Cardinal O’Hara junior Alec Kerr had an 86, gutting through the last eight holes with an arm injury. And O’Hara senior Shane Dougherty had a 98.
   St. Joseph’s Prep won the team title and will compete for the state Class AAA team title. It will be interesting to see how the Catholic League champion Hawks fare in a couple of weeks at Heritage Hills.

Haverford School still in front

   What has been an intriguing race between The Haverford School and defending champion Malvern Prep for the Inter-Ac League crown took another turn at Tuesday’s mini-tournament hosted by the Fords at Gulph Mills Golf Club.
   Haverford School held a precarious one-match lead on the Friars and it looked like Malvern was going to knot things up going into the final mini-tournament next week at Merion Golf Club’s West Course.
   But Nick Miller signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified, taking his 37 out of the mix for the Friars and Malvern and the Fords ended up tied for first at 223. That makes Haverford School 22-2-1 going into the final mini-tournament with Malvern sitting at 21-3-1.
   The misfortune for Miller and Malvern should not overshadow some outstanding golf, though. Brendan Bacskai led the way for Malvern Prep and was the medalist for the day with a 33.
   Haverford School was led by junior Max Siegfried, who shot a 35 and took over the lead in the season-long individual standings in the Inter-Ac. Also scoring for the Fords were Matt Grubb with a 36, Ryan Bowman and Otis Baker with 37s and Peter Garno and Jay Losty with 39s.
Also of note at Gulph Mills was the third-place finish by Episcopal Academy, which assures the Churchmen of a third-place finish in the final standings behind only those two very strong teams at the top.
   Episcopal was led by Matt Marino’s 38 as the Churchmen finished at 242. Also scoring for Episcopal were Jon Nolan Perry with a 39, Joe Chambers, Scott McConnell and Cole Testaiuti with 41s  and Jack Cassidy with a 42.