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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The stuff that wouldn't fit in the paper from the District One Tournament

   A few leftover thoughts after two days at the District One Tournament.

   There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as seeing a player miss a chance to advance out of the District One Tournament to the East Regional by a single shot and it happened to Radnor junior Michael Sydnes and Chichester junior Caprian Kan Tuesday at Turtle Creek.
   Sydnes knew he was in trouble when he put up a 77 Monday to make the cut to reach the second day on the number. But he bounced back with an even-par 72 Tuesday that was a huge factor in giving the Raiders the team title.
   But only 16 boys in Class AAA advance to the regionals and, almost unbelievably, Sydnes’ 5-over 149 total was one shot too many.
   District One is the best district in the state, by a lot, and probably deserves more than the 16 slots it got this year to the regional. But that isn’t much consolation right now to Sydnes.
   Radnor coach Andy Achenbach said Sydnes has improved as much, if not more, from one year to the next as any player he can remember.
   Chichester junior Caprian Kan was in the same boat on the girls side. She carded a solid 3-over 74 in the opening round at Gilbertsville Golf Club Monday and her 79 Tuesday at the Turtle was hardly a bad score. But her 153 total was one too many.
   I was following Radnor’s Brynn Walker and Gabby Kim and Conestoga’s Samantha Yao on the front nine at the Turtle Tuesday (their back nine) in the group behind Kan and I didn’t see her hit a bad shot.
   Considering you have to go back to Waynesburg Central’s Rachel Rohanna in 2007 to find the last player to win the PIAA big school title not from District One, maybe the district deserves more than the eight girls who advance to regional Tuesday.
   Again, it’s not much consolation to Kan, but finishing ninth in District One probably makes her one of the top 20 players in the state.
   I reported in Tuesday’s Daily Times that Radnor freshman David Colleran had failed to make the cut for the second day of the District One Tournament with an 89. In reality, there was some kind of mixup in Radnor’s contingent in the boys tournament. It was Chris Austen who shot 89.
   Colleran failed to make districts with an 88 in the Central League Tournament at Turtle Creek last week, but when it came time to pick the five players to represent Radnor in Tuesday’s team competition, Radnor head coach Andy Achenbach didn’t hesitate to send Colleran out there. 
   Achenbach knew what he had in Sydnes and Walker and Kim had fired a 73 at Centrals last week at the Turtle. He figured Colleran and fellow freshman Jake Calamaro had the potential to go low, so he chose them to fill out his lineup for the District One Class AAA team competition. The top four scores counted.
   Calamaro posted a 2-over 74, the round that put the Raiders over the top in their District One bid. Colleran had an 82, not a bad effort in a pretty high-pressure situation.
   With three more years to go, Calamaro will be the bridge in a decade of success for Radnor on the links.
   It’s been six years since his older sister Jackie won the 2009 PIAA girls title. She was a state qualifier as a freshman and, on a brutally cold day in 2006, she cheered on the Radnor boys as they won the inaugural state team title.
   When the Radnor girls won the 2011 District One team title, it was Jackie Calamaro they called first to give her the news. Jamie Susanin had taken the leadership baton that Calamaro passed to her and after Radnor settled for a runnerup finish at the PIAA Tournament in 2011, the Raiders came back the next year to repeat as district champion and then back it up with a state team title.
   Brynn Walker was a freshman and a key member of that 2012 team and Tuesday the 2014 PIAA champion led a coed Raiders team to the 2015 district team title. And there was Jake Calamaro as a freshman playing a key role on this year’s Radnor team.
   It was a highly entertaining nine holes watching Walker, Kim and Yao Tuesday.
   The par-5 18th hole was their ninth of the day and Kim chipped in for birdie while Walker made a chip and a putt for birdie after being over the 530-yard hole in two.
   We weren’t really sure what was going on behind us, where Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr and Owen J. Roberts’ Maddie Sager would ultimately end up tied after the regulation 36 holes at 3-under 140.
   But for a stretch of seven or eight holes the group was never separated by more than a shot. Walker didn’t miss a tee shot and was routinely 75 yards past her playing partners.
   But Kim and Yao played their games. Yao, just a freshman, chipped in for a birdie at the sixth and stuck her approach at eight to 10 feet and drained the birdie putt.
   Yao’s 2-under 70 for the day was a shot better than Walker’s 71.
   Walker is sitting on a low round. She was hitting the ball purely for the last nine holes and she can’t wait to get to Golden Oaks for next week’s regional.
   And well, if she couldn’t win a district title – and for all of Radnor’s success in the last 13 years or so, a District One girls champion remains elusive – Walker didn’t mind seeing the gold medal go to Herr, her partner in their run to the semifinals of the inaugural U.S. Women’s Four-Ball Championship last spring in Oregon. That run earned the duo a return trip to the 2016 Four-Ball, scheduled for May at the Streamsong Resort in Florida.
   “I’m going to need her playing well at Streamsong,” Walker said.
   It was in 2007 when Madelein Herr’s older sister Erica denied Chichester’s Aurora Kan a fourth straight District One title. Zach, the oldest, won the boys district title that day. Zach would win the district title the following year while Erica won the 2011 and 2012 PIAA titles and nearly made it three in a row in 2013. Tuesday it was a district title for Madelein.
   Which makes for a pretty nice run for Team Herr at the District One Tournament.

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