When I got a chance to chat with Penn State women’s golf coach Denise St. Pierre on a shuttle headed for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club this summer, she said one of her recruiting priorities is simply to try to keep the top scholastic talent in Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania.
And she was looking forward to the 2016-17 campaign because she had done precisely that. St. Pierre was at Rolling Green to see her top freshman from last year, former Pennsbury standout Jackie Rogowicz, and one of her top recruits for the upcoming season, former Council Rock North standout Madelein Herr, tee it up in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The dividends started to pay off this weekend as the Nittany Lions rolled to the team title at their Nittany Lion Invitational at Penn State’s Blue Course behind Rogowicz, who led the way with a third-place finish in the individual chase.
Rogowicz opened Saturday’s double round with a sizzling 4-under 68 before backing off a little with rounds of 74 and a 76 in Sunday’s final round, but still finished at 2-over 218, two shots back of individual champion Isabella Rusher of Richmond. Rusher, a sophomore from Salisbury, N.C., had rounds of 70, 74 and 72 for an even-par total of 216.
Rogowicz was a fixture at the PIAA Tournament at the Heritage Hills Resort during her high school career. She was a two-time runnerup at states and twice won the District One title. After a solid freshman season at Penn State, she nearly made it to match play at Rolling Green, getting knocked out in a 9-for-5 playoff.
Rogowicz’s opening-round 68 helped Penn State fire a 1-under 287 in the opening round. After slipping back in the second round with a 303, the Nittany Lions posted a 295 Sunday for a 21-over 885 total. Runnerup Columbia was 22 shots back at 907. Penn State’s Big Ten rival Rutgers and Richmond shared third place at 912 and Delaware finished fifth at 922.
Rutgers’ Ashleigh Greenham, a redshirt sophomore from England, was the runnerup in the individual standings, carding an even-par 72 in the final round to finish a shot back of Rusher at 1-over 217.
St. Pierre got three more top-10 finishes from her youthful homegrown talent. Sophomore Lauren Waller, who lost in a playoff to Radnor’s Brynn Walker for the PIAA Class AAA title as a senior at Canon-McMillan in 2014, finished fifth at 220, Herr finished seventh at 223 and sophomore Cara Basso, the PIAA Class AA champion as a sophomore at Villa Maria Academy in 2012, finished in a tie for 10th at 225.
Herr, who claimed the District One title as a senior last fall, opened with a 3-under 69 Saturday. Basso finished up with an even-par 72 Sunday.
St. Pierre doesn’t mind grabbing a recruit from out of state. Rounding out Penn State’s team entrants in the Nittany Lion Invitational was Ashri Dhruval, a freshman from Katy, Texas. Dhruval finished in a tie for 23rd at 232, saving her best for last as she posted a final-round 75.
Among a group of Nittany Lions who competed as individuals, Kate Granahan, a graduate student from Allentown, finished in a tie for eighth overall, posting Penn State’s best individual score Sunday, a 1-under 71 that gave her a 224 total.
Megan McLean, a freshman from Lebanon, N.J., matched Dhruva’s total of 232 to finish in a tie for 23rd. Kamerine Taylor, a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, finished in a tie for 31st at 235. And Meaghan Coleman, a senior from The Woodlands, Texas, finished 55th at 252.