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Latrobe's Wears hopes to use experience as advantage at WPIAL golf championship

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WPIAL boys golf champions

2012 — Matt Barto, Leechburg (Class AA)

2011 — Zack Taylor, Baldwin (Division I); Brad Thornton, Shenango (Division II)

2010 — Bo Lustig, Belle Vernon (Division I); Max Kaminsky, Serra Catholic (Division II)

2009 — Ben Gjebre, Latrobe

2008 — Adam Stawski, Plum

2007 — Brock Pompeani, Hopewell

2006 — Adam Hofmann, Fox Chapel

2005 — Christian Goetz, Burgettstown

2004 — Mike Van Sickle, Pine-Richland

2003 — Van Sickle, Pine-Richland

2002 — Tim Moynihan, F. Regional

Top high school sports
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 10:44 p.m.

It only seems like Latrobe's Will Wears has been one of the WPIAL's best golfers for as long as his grandfather, Arnold Palmer, has been a golf legend.

“I feel like I've been in high school for 10 years,” Wears said.

No, Wears is in the midst of his standard fourth year, a senior whose high school golf career is in its final days.

For his time, Wears already has a WPIAL team championship to his credit, and he has been a PIAA individual championships qualifier each of his four seasons.

The one thing missing from Wears' scholastic golf resume? A WPIAL individual title.

He has his final opportunity to rectify that Wednesday at Fox Chapel Golf Club.

“It'd be awesome to win it,” Wears said. “That's been my goal every year, but I've played too conservatively. I've played just to (qualify for PIAAs) every year.

“This year, I think with that golf course and how I'm playing well right now, I'm not worried as much about advancing. If I have a chance to win, winning is my priority.”

Wears has as good a shot as anyone at doing that. He shot a 2-over-par 74 on Sept. 25 to tie Penn-Trafford senior Max Doran for the low score at the WPIAL semifinal qualifier at The Links at Spring Church in Apollo. The top 12 at each of three semifinal sites last week advanced to the WPIAL championships.

Wears joins sophomore Chad Kissell and senior Ben Biss as Latrobe golfers in the 36-player field.

“He really wants to win this WPIAL title,” Biss said. “It's a really big dream for him, ever since his freshman year. I know how much it means to him. If I don't win and I advance to the next round, I'm not going to be too upset. I'm rooting for him. He has the game, and his game has improved.”

Wears will have to contend with the likes of Biss and last season's Division I champion, Baldwin's Zack Taylor.

Taylor won the WPIAL title as a freshman, and the next-highest placing returnee from last season is Peters Township's Tommy Nettles, who placed third as a junior last season and 15th the year before.

Nettles is one of three Peters Township golfers who qualified. Junior Tyler Pollack was the low scorer at the Seven Oaks semifinal last week; junior Cody Ruffing just got into the field. Upper St. Clair had four players qualify from that semifinal: juniors Thomas Steve, Grant Engel, Corey Wilding and Nelson Zacur. Central Catholic (Kris Wright, Hogan Cuny and Brent Rodgers) and Blackhawk (Josh McCuean, Matt Urgitus and Jesse Phlegar) each placed three among the top 11 at Cranberry Highlands.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.



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