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Work with golf pro prepares Jeannette grad for final season at Waynesburg

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Waynesburg University
Thomas Paulone, a Jeannette High School graduate and Waynesburg University senior, is in his final collegiate season.

Thomas Paulone was going to remember his final collegiate sports season no matter what.

However, the Jeannette High School graduate took extra steps to make sure his final season was as memorable — and successful — as possible.

Paulone, a two-sport athlete at Waynesburg University, spent time this off-season training with professional golfer Brent Johnson— his first time training with a pro — in anticipation of this, his final season on the links with the Yellow Jackets (the senior wrapped up his football career in the winter).

“I took my first official lesson with a golf pro,” said Paulone, a senior. “He changed a few things around and improved my swing.”

Paulone explained that Johnson incorporated more wrist action into his motion, which has improved his game substantially.

“I've seen major results,” he said. “I'm in the mid-80s in practice rounds and I'm hitting the greens regularly.”

Paulone has a score average of 86 strokes per round this season and that average continues to trend down. The local product said that, in addition to the tactical adjustments, the ability to concentrate on just one sport has helped, too.

“Now I'm focused more on golf. Before it was football and golf,” he said.

Paulone and the Yellow Jackets will finish the season this Friday and Saturday in the NCAA Division III Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) Championships at Cedar Brook Country Club in Belle Vernon.

While his game has improved substantially, Paulone's scores are still behind what some of the top golfers in the PAC generally shoot. However, always the competitor, Paulone knows that anything is possible in any given tournament.

“Ultimately, I want to win,” he said. “I know it's never been realistic with my old swing, but I think it is realistic now. The competitor in me, I always want to win, and I believe I can.”

Paulone is also finishing up his studies. The criminal justice major has a 3.6 grade point average and is looking to land a job at a police force or government agency. And golf remains a part of his future as well.

While football was his first love, athletically speaking, Paulone knows his gridiron playing days have passed. But golf is a sport where he can continue to bring his athleticism and competitiveness for decades to come.

“I always thought of the football field as my sanctuary. Now I really don't have that anymore,” he said. “But golf can be my sanctuary. No matter where I end up, I can always find a driving range and a golf course.”

Cortazzo returns

After missing several games due to injury, Jeannette grad Kirstie Cortazzo returned to the lineup for the Gannon University softball team last week and picked up right where she left off.

Her return came in a double header against IUP on Thursday and Cortazzo had two of Gannon's five hits in a 3-0 loss in game one, then went three-for-four with an RBI in a 6-1 win in game two.

She continued her hot play over the weekend, with five hits in four games, including a home run in a 6-4 loss to California on Saturday.

Despite missing seven games, Cortazzo leads Gannon in home runs with four and also leads the squad with an OPS of 1.121.

She is also second on the team in RBIs (18), runs (19), hits (32) and batting average (.405).

Gannon entered the week 15-17 overall and 8-10 in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). The Knights are set to play a road double-headers against Clarion tonight and Edinboro Friday before hosting Clarion in another double-header on Saturday.

More hits for Weightman

Jeannette grad Brian Weightman had two hits as his St. Bonaventure University baseball team fell to Fordham 14-8 on Sunday.

Weightman, a senior outfielder, has a .286 batting average, a .398 slugging percentage and a .381 on-base percentage. He's also second on the team with 10 stolen bases.

The Division I Bonnies were scheduled to play at Bucknell Tuesday and Binghamton on Wednesday but results were not available at press time. They'll play a three-game series at Dayton this weekend.

St. Bonaventure entered the week 8-23 overall and 2-11 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.

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