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Gateway girls coach excited for squad's future

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Michael Love | The Times Express
Katie Baran is one of three seniors who will say goobye to the Gateway varsity girls golf team.
Top high school sports
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:00 p.m.

The Gateway varsity girls golf team won only one match out of 17 this season, but, head coach Dennis Persin said, the team improved in several areas and has a number of positives to look back on.

The Gators snapped a losing streak that dated back to the 2010 season with a 222-227 victory over Fox Chapel, and, Persin said, the team scores kept coming down.

Gateway's best team score of the season came in a 206-216 loss to Norwin on Sept. 21.

“There was a lot of improvement from the players from last year to the start of this year and from the beginning to the end of this season,” Persin said.

“There is enthusiasm from the team to put in the extra time to continue to get better.”

Freshman Johnna Beehner broke onto the scene this season and had the low score for every match.

She carded her best nine-hole round of the season — 37 — in the win against Fox Chapel.

Beehner finished fifth at the WPIAL Class AAA individual finals on Oct. 1 and will be in the mix with other AAA and AA golfers at the PIAA Western Regional this Monday.

The top six AAA finishers will advance to the state championships in York.

Junior Abbi Semnitsky and sophomores Kendall Alexander, Julia Hyzy and Ashley Klein were in the varsity mix this season, and all four are expected to return.

“I want them to work hard in the offseason to get better and take advantage of resources to work on their games,” Persin said.

Semnitsky missed matches during the second half of the season because of a back injury.

“It was a strain for her to play two days in a row,” Persin said. “She played through pain a couple of times and got treatment for it. She wanted to play and be there for her teammates.”

Persin said Alexander a first-year golfer, showed a great deal of improvement from her first matches in August.

“She started the season shooting in the 70s, and she took that down to where she came in with a 61 and was disappointed,” he said.

Persin said he's excited for several younger players who want to join the team for next year and the potential those players have.

At the same time, Persin will have to say goodbye to three seniors — Katie Baran, Sam Bertoline and Ashley Bloom — who, he said, bought into the program and helped it improve.

“Katie shot in the 60s last year and shot consistently in the mid 50s this year. She did a great job,” Persin said.

Bloom was brand new to golf last year as a junior.

“I wish she would've started in ninth grade instead of 11th grade so she would have had two more years,” Persin said.

Bertoline battled through a couple of injuries this season, and they hampered her ability to get into the varsity lineup.

“Sam still came to the practices and did some stuff at the driving range,” Persin said. “She did what she could to help the team.”

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

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