Conestoga sophomore Samantha Yao continued her steady march through the scholastic postseason Monday with an even-par 72 at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort in Springettsbury Township, York County that gave her a share of the lead after the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA Tournament.
Yao was joined at that figure by Peters Township senior Mia Kness, who finished in a tie for fourth a year ago. Kness had the lead after the first round last year, but couldn’t prevent a repeat by Radnor’s Brynn Walker, who has taken her talents to North Carolina this fall.
Yao, a member at White Manor Country Club, will be trying to keep the state crown in the Central League. After firing a 3-under 69 at Turtle Creek Golf Course at the Central League tourney, Yao breezed to wins at the District One and East Regional championships at Turtle Creek and Golden Oaks Golf Club, respectively.
Yao opened up with a bogey at the first hole Monday, but got that shot right back with a birdie at the par-5 second. A birdie at the par-5 seventh enabled her to make the turn at 1-under 35. Back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes got Yao to 1-over, but she again righted the ship with a birdie at the 13th and then parred the last five holes to finish at even par.
Kness had an up-and-down round that featured five birdies and five bogeys.
Central York junior Julianne Lee and Pine Richland sophomore Lauren Freyvogel are tied for third, three shots back of the co-leaders at 3-over 75. Radnor senior Gabby Kim is tied for sixth with Emmaus senior Samantha Fritzinger, each carding a 77.
Penn Trafford senior Amanda Conner is eighth at 80 and Canon McMillan junior Taylor Waller is ninth with an 81. Radnor freshman June Kim is tied for 12th with an 85.
In Class AA, Greensburg Central Catholic senior Olivia Zambruno grabbed a six-shot lead with a 3-over 75. Zambruno offset bogeys at the first, third and fifth holes with a birdie at the fourth to make the turn at 2-over 38. She made bogeys at the 13th, 16th and 17th holes, but picked up strokes with birdies at the tough par-4 14th and at the par-5 18th.
New Hope-Solebury junior Nina Kouchi, who swept to District One and East Regional titles the last two weeks, is tied for second with Valley View senior Hannah Yanoski, both carding an 81.
On the boys side, Nazareth Area senior Kevin Scherr fired a 2-under 69 to surge to a four-shot lead in Class AAA as a strong District One contingent struggled on the quirky Heritage Hills layout. Heritage Hills plays to a par of 71 for the boys and par 72 for the girls, the difference coming at the finishing hole, which is a long par-4 for the boys and a short par-5 for the girls.
Starting on the back nine, Scherr birdied the par-5 11th and the 13th before taking a double bogey at the par-3 15th. A bogey at the par-4 17th left him at 1-over 36 heading to the first tee. Scherr was flawless on the outgoing nine at Heritage Hills with birdies at the two par-5s, two and seven, a birdie at the fourth and six pars that left him at 2-under for the round.
Pope John Paul II junior J.T. Spina is one of six players tied for second at 2-over 73. He was joined at that figure by Cumberland Valley senior Campbell Wolf, Latrobe sophomore Brady Pervanik, Fox Chapel senior Alex Lawson, Pittsburgh Central Catholic senior Matt DelRosso and Erie Cathedral Prep sophomore Patrick Kelly.
Franklin Regional sophomore Palmer Jackson and Dallastown senior Blake Sebring are tied for eighth, each carding a 74. And it was another three shots back to a three-way tie for 10th at 77 that included Downingtown East senior Wills Montgomery, Central York junior Joe Parrini and Pittsburgh Central Catholic sophomore Jimmy Meyers.
Upper Dublin senior David Kim is tied for 13th with a 78 and Bishop Shahahan’s Ryan Conners is another shot back of Kim in a tie for 16th with a 79.
Spring-Ford junior Ben Pochet is one of four District One players in a tie for 23rd at 81. Pochet had claimed the District One title at Turtle Creek and was on fire with a 5-under 67 at Golden Oaks in claiming the East Regional title a week ago. Joining Pochet at that figure are Norristown sophomore Caleb Ryan, Unionville junior Nick Gianelos and North Penn senior Ron Robinson.
Methacton senior Kyle Vance, who has been the best player in District One for four years, just couldn’t get it going at Heritage Hills and is tied for 32nd after an 83. West Chester Rustin senior Luke Shevlin is alone in 34th after an 84.
In Class AA, Sewickley Academy senior Jason Li grabbed a two-shot lead with a 1-over 72.
Li got off to a fast start with birdies at two and three, but had a rough finish to the outward nine, going bogey, bogey, double bogey at seven, eight and nine, respectively, to make the turn at 2-over 38. But he got back to even par with birdies at the 11th and 16th holes before finishing up with a bogey at the 18th.
Laurel senior Evan Long is second, two shots back of Li at 74. Three players – Quaker Valley senior Chris Tanabe, Scranton Prep senior Sebastian Cimoch and Riverside freshman Skyler Fox – are tied for third at 76.
Lower Moreland’s Daniel Galbreath, the District One champion, struggled with a 92 that left him alone in 35th place.
Four individual state champions will be crowned Tuesday with PIAA team competition scheduled for Wednesday.