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Kittanning golfers fall short at WPIAL qualifier

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 11:59 p.m.

Kittanning golf coach Bud Stanley had a plan in place if his team qualified for the WPIAL Class AA team finals Thursday at Cedarbrook.

Immediately after the semifinal qualifier at Donegal Highlands, he was going to call the principal and see if his team could get out of class early Wednesday to play an afternoon practice round.

It was a sound plan — one he almost got to put into effect.

As it turned out, however, the Wildcats came up just short. Kittanning finished fourth in the 10-team field with a combined five-man score of 438. Winchester Thurston took the third and final slot in the finals with a 428. Sewickley Academy blew away the field with a 387, while Neshannock (417) finished second.

“It would have been great for our program and for our two seniors to achieve that,” Stanley said. “I looked at the scores from the other schools (coming in), and I thought that we would do all right.”

Kittanning was in third place midway through the match, but as the scores of golfers from other teams came in, the gap quickly closed. The Wildcats were eliminated when the No. 5 golfer from Winchester Thurston, freshman Patrick Moore, posted a 103, which eliminated them by one stroke.

His score was dropped, however, when the team's No. 6 shooter, sophomore Max Calhoun, carded a 94 that extended the margin to 10. The top five scores in relation to par for the six players for each team in their 18-hole round count toward the final tally.

Like most of the teams, Kittanning traveled to Donegal Highlands for a practice round in anticipation of playing in the semifinals. The Wildcats braved cold conditions on Monday and played 18 holes so they would have a feel for the course.

“Being able to see the course, and the back nine here especially where there are some tight holes and some blind shots and doglegs, is huge,” Stanley said. “But if you're playing a course that you've never been on and you have no idea what's up in front of you, that's just a huge disadvantage.”

Which is why senior Jordan Klodowski will play Tom's Run in Blairsville in the next few days. Klodowski finished ninth in the WPIAL Class AA individual finals Sept. 24 and will compete in the PIAA western regional Monday for a chance to qualify for the PIAA Class AA championships on Oct. 22-23 at Heritage Hills Resort in York.

“It's just one of those things that you never really know what the cut is going to be, or how well you need to play,” Klodowski said. “You just have to go out there and play the best you can.”

Klodowski finished with a 76 at Donegal Highlands, which tied for the fourth-best individual round of the day. How he builds on that outing, and how much he learns when he plays Tom's Run on Friday, will go a long way toward determining if he can lock up one of those final 20 slots.

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.

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