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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Penn Charter gets the jump in Inter-Ac race with win at Huntingdon Valley


   Penn Charter got the jump on what shapes up to be another fascinating battle among four very capable teams when the Quakers finished first Tuesday in the first of the six mini-tournaments that make up the Inter-Ac League’s regular season.
   Playing on their home course at Huntingdon Valley Country Club, the Quakers posted a 221 total to edge defending Inter-Ac champion Episcopal Academy by three shots. Haverford School finished third at 227 and Malvern Prep was fourth at 230. Germantown Academy was fifth at 266 and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy was sixth at 284.
   Last year the race among Episcopal, Haverford School, Malvern Prep and Penn Charter was so tight that whichever team prevailed in the final mini-tournament was going to win the league title. Episcopal edged Haverford School by a shot, breaking a stranglehold on the league title that had been held by the Fords and Malvern Prep. It was the first Inter-Ac title for the Churchmen since 1999.
   Penn Charter was led by its senior standout Brian Isztwan, who matched par on Huntingdon Valley’s Centennial nine with a 35. Three other players matched par, including Malvern Prep senior Matt Davis.
   Having watched Isztwan and Davis for 36 holes in the Christman Cup at Stonewall North (I was looping for Isztwan) this summer, I’m not surprised in the least to see those two playing well.
   Penn Charter also got a pair of 1-over 36s from senior Noah Schwartz and junior Stuart Fleming, a 37 from senior Dante DiStefano, a 38 from senior Matt Barkann and a 39 from Isztwan’s younger brother Patrick, a freshman. I caddied for Brian and Patrick Isztwan in a practice round for the Christman Cup and Patrick’s a player.
   Only nine shots separated the four teams that contended for the title a year ago Tuesday at Huntingdon Valley.
   Episcopal had the two other players tied for first first in the indivdual standings at even-par 35, seniors Jon Nolan Perry and Ashton Dunn. Another senior, Justin Hershey, was at 1-over 36, junior Robbie Copit posted a 3-over 38, senior Cole Kemmerer, a co-captain along with Perry,  had a 39 and the Zeng brothers, Michiael, a junior,  and Jacob, a sophomore, each carded a 41.
   Haverford School had six players break 40, led by Mac Costin, who signed for a 1-over 36. A.J. Aivazoglou (another talented Inter-Ac player I caddied for this summer in a U.S. Amateur qualifier at both Stonewall courses) had a 37, Tyler Roland and Cal Buonocore each carded a 38, and David Hurly and Sam Walker each posted a 39.
   Two years ago, Malvern Prep made a near-perfect run through the Inter-Ac. Haverford School tied the Friars in the final mini-tournament, leaving them with a 29-0-1 record.
   In addition to Davis, two other key members of that team remain, a big reason the Friars have to be considered a contender again.
   They are juniors John Updike and Andrew Curran. Updike, the 2016 Pennsylvania Junior Boys champion,  had a 1-over 36 and Curran a 2-over 37 Tuesday at Huntingdon Valley. Junior Kevin Hagan gave Malvern Prep a third sub-40 round with a 39. Senior Mike Hennigan added a 41.
   Teams can start up to eight players and the top six scores count. Malvern Prep’s three remaining players, junior Matt Civitella, junior Charlie Andress and senior Eric McLaughlin, all came in at 42. That’s some pretty impressive depth when you can trot out eight guys and none finishes worse than 7-over.

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