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Leechburg's Barto has designs on PIAA golf finals

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 12:05 a.m.
Leechburg junior Matt Barto eyes up a putt during the WPIAL Class AA Individual finals at Youghiogheny Country Club on Sept. 24, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Valley's Bill Clark watches his tee shot on the fifth hole at Saxon Golf Course in Clinton Township during the WPIAL Section 8-AAA individual qualifier on Sept. 19, 2012. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

Matt Barto hopes to be dressed for success in the next round of the high school golf postseason.

The Leechburg junior and WPIAL Class AA champion plans to wear his black-and-white checkered “Pole Position” pants from Loudmouth Golf for Monday's PIAA Western Regional tournament at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville.

He wore Loudmouth's “Derby Chex,” a similar, blue-and-white pattern, when he won his third straight section championship.

He went casual khaki in the WPIAL finals.

“My mom didn't want me to wear the Loudmouths that day,” Barto said.

The top 12 boys finishers in the regional advance to the PIAA championships. For the first time, a Class AA champion will be crowned at the state tournaments, scheduled for Oct. 22-23 at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York.

Barto could be in line to become the Alle-Kiski's first state golf champion since Knoch's Jeff Dickson in 1992.

He knows he'll have to get there first. And he knows Tom's Run well, having played in this round the past two years.

“I dislike how a couple holes are just bombs away and the long hitters almost can't make bogey,” he said. “However it is a good test, and (holes) 2, 3 and 4 in the valley are tight holes where you can take advantage of precision.

“I really like the course as a whole, the layout and greens are good. It just favors long hitters.”

Barto tied for 40th in last year's PIAA championship, shooting 84-80.

Barto would prefer the state crown only one individual champion.

“I dislike the separation,” he said. “Golf is individual, therefore I think we should all play against each other because our graduation number shouldn't dictate how much potential us Double-A kids have. I wish I could actually compete against Triple-A kids to prove I can compete at the higher level.”

Valley's Bill Clark also has had a steady WPIAL Class AAA postseason, averaging 75.5 and tying for 12th in the finals. He will look to make his first PIAA appearance.

Kittanning senior Jordan Klowdowski also is in the Class AA field.

Two local girls — Freeport freshman Audrey Clawson and Fox Chapel senior Ashley DeMoss — will play in the qualifier.

Clawson has been one of the top scorers on Freeport's boys team this fall. She took fourth at the WPIAL Class AA championship, out of 10 girls.

“I was a little more nervous than I expected,” Clawson said of the finals.

Clawson can advance to the state finals with a top-10 finish. The top six Class AAA girls also advance.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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