Baldwin sophomore aims to defend WPIAL golf title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Jim Stanko was surprised ... to a point.
So were many others when Baldwin freshman Zack Taylor won the Division I WPIAL boys golf title last fall.
“Anytime a freshman wins a championship, it's something of a surprise,” said Stanko, Taylor's coach. “Zack was not an unknown quantity. We knew about him when he came into the high school. He had been in our winter golf program, had played in a number of national kids tournaments and had played on the Plantation Tour. So him winning a championship was not a big surprise to us.”
The high school season teed off last week, and Taylor is one of the top returning players in the WPIAL. He joins Peters Township seniors Tommy Nettles and Trent McPherson; seniors Kirby Manown of Belle Vernon and Will Wears of Latrobe; and juniors Matt Barto of Leechburg and Matt Holuta of Indiana, among others.
For Taylor, now a 5-foot-10, 160-pound sophomore, this season brings an opportunity to realize personal and team goals.
“I want to try to do it again, but I definitely want to see the team go farther,” he said. “We won our section and were 17-1, then we didn't get past the first round of the WPIAL.”
Winning a district title at 14 “was definitely a surprise,” Taylor said. Again, to a point.
“I didn't think going in that I would win,” he said. “But I thought if I played well, I'd have a chance.”
His mastery of two major elements of the game, Stanko said, are why Taylor can prevail in any event.
“His biggest strengths are his approach and his short game,” Stanko said. “He is wonderful on and around the greens, and his mental approach is beyond his years.”
“I always try to keep a level head,” Taylor said. “My short game has gotten better. It was never a strong suit while I was growing up.”
Taylor has been playing since he was 7, learning at the nearby Cool Springs driving range. This isn't his only athletic pursuit, though. He also plays basketball and plans to go out for lacrosse.
“He's an athletic kid,” Stanko said. “I just hope he doesn't get hurt.”
Stanko was laughing when he said that — a little. He realizes his 15-year-old ace, with continued growth, “could be really good. Not that he isn't good now, but there are different levels of good.”
A number of returning players are on Taylor's level in WPIAL Class AAA. Nettles finished third last season, two strokes behind Taylor's 71. A back-nine 40 sabotaged him, but Nettles rebounded in the PIAA tournament to tie for second, a shot back of Garrett Browning of West Allegheny. Nettles captured medalist honors Friday at the Tri-County Championship at Village Green Golf Course.
Manown, McPherson, Holuta and Wears also were within six of Taylor at WPIALs. Barto was second in WPIAL Division II, his 74 a stroke behind the champion, Brad Thornton of Shenango.
Rick Shrum is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Johnston must reach Malkin in Moscow
- Steelers are in familiar territory going into training camp in Latrobe
- Air Algerie plane with 116 disappears from radar in Africa
- Pirates notebook: Recovering Cole exceeds expectations in simulated game
- Liriano, Snider lift Pirates to a victory over Dodgers at PNC Park
- New Penguins coach to meet with Malkin
- Hookah bar on tap for Greensburg
- Transplant patients in limbo over coverage under UPMC-Highmark pact
- Ex-Milwaukee archbishop told he can’t spend final days at St. Vincent Archabbey
- 3 identified in Route 66 crash near Delmont
- Fitzgerald stacks legislative wins as Allegheny council members struggle