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Beehner takes 5th at WPIAL championship

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
The Times Express
Gateway freshman Johnna Beehner tees off during WPIAL Class AAA girls individual championship on Oct. 1, 2012, at 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills. Gary Bills | The Times Express

The start of Monday's WPIAL Class AAA individual girls golf championship at 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills was delayed almost two hours by fog.

Gateway's Johnna Beehner had some extra time on her hands to think about her round and the opportunity that was lying ahead.

Several hours later, when all 28 golfers had completed their final holes, Beehner found herself in some select company.

She finished fifth overall with a round of 84, and she was one of seven to advance to the PIAA Western Regional tournament on Oct. 15 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge in Blairsville.

“I was very nervous,” Beehner said.

“My goal was to shoot an 85, and when I saw that I shot an 84, I was very happy. I was pretty excited with everything I did and how I played.”

Rain from previous days and a morning dew made for slick conditions on the course.

“The greens were a lot harder than I was expecting,” Beehner said.

“The fairways were wet, and it was hard coming out of the rough.”

Beehner was 13 over par through 13 holes, and she made a triple bogey on 13.

But she came back with a birdie on 14 and a par on 15.

She finished with a birdie on 18.

Beehner shot a 44 on the front nine and carded a 40 on the back nine.

She was in sixth after nine holes.

“I am so proud of Johnna,” Gateway girls golf head coach Dennis Persin said. “She played so well, it gave me goosebumps. I told her she had the talent to do this.”

Beehner was well represented, as her mother, father, grandfather and a neighbor made the trip to 3 Lakes to support her.

“(Waiting to start) was a little unexpected,” Persin said.

“She just wanted to keep warm. Having some extra time to think can be good or bad.”

Persin said every golfer fought through the tough conditions.

“Johnna had a couple of 3-putts, but everyone did,” he said.

“Every shot and every hole, it is nerve-wracking. At the 13th, Johnna could have crumbled, but she stepped up big.”

Beehner was the top finisher out of the group of seven freshmen to compete in their first WPIAL championship event.

Hempfield senior Janista Numpho-Frank captured the WPIAL AAA title with a 4-over 76.

She was the only golfer to break 40 on the front nine (36), and that score helped her as she put up a few high numbers on the back nine.

Canon-McMillan sophomore Lauren Waller shot a 44 (8-over) on the front nine, but she rallied for a 34 on the back nine to finish second with a 6-over 78.

Both AA and AAA golfers will compete at the regional qualifying tournament Oct. 15.

The top six finishers in AAA will move on to the PIAA state championship event, set for Oct. 22 and 23 at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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