Norwin golf teams have high hopes for 2013 season

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 9:16 p.m.

After missing the playoffs during the 2012 season, the Norwin boys and girls golf teams are looking to take a step forward in 2013.

The WPIAL golf season began this week, with the Norwin boys team scheduled to play three matches and the girls team two.

“It's kind of like jumping right into it,” Norwin boys coach Neil Rushnock said.

Below is a glance at each team's outlook this season:

Boys golf

The Knights return experienced players from last season, but they will be led by a different coach for the third straight season.

Rushnock, who also coaches swimming and freshman baseball at Norwin, will take over for Jim Mizikar, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

“I'm trying to run it as close (as possible) to what Mr. Mizikar did last year,” Rushnock said. “He and I are great friends. We've eaten lunch together for the last 14 years, so we're really good friends. He and I have talked back and forth several times about how he ran the team. (I'm) basically trying to parallel how he did it.”

Rushnock said he expected to start four seniors and one junior to begin the season.

Senior Nick Nguyen led the team in last week's tryouts, shooting 68 in both rounds. He will be joined in the lineup by fellow seniors Dan Conwell, Jake Pozzuto and Kevin Zabelski, as well as junior Cory Sandleitner.

Conwell, Nguyen, Sandleitner and Zabelski played for the Norwin golf team last season, and Pozzuto joins the team after coming up short in tryouts in previous years.

“(He) had tried out the last three years and didn't make it, and he took lessons since then this past year,” Rushnock said. “He had two rounds in the 70s (during tryouts). It's nice to see that. He really worked at it, and he made the team. He's excited.”

Norwin beat Greensburg Salem, 201-219, in its regular-season opener Monday at Hannastown Golf Club and was scheduled to host Derry on Wednesday at Irwin Country Club. The Knights will travel to face Hempfield on Friday at Valley Green Golf and Country Club.

The Knights will look to beat out 2012 playoff teams Hempfield and Latrobe in a section that also includes Derry, Greensburg Salem, Indiana and Penn-Trafford.

“It's just a matter of … just taking it one match at a time,” Rushnock said. “Don't look ahead at anything. Golf is one of those things where you basically play one shot at a time, so that's kind of how we're going to do the whole season. Let's do one shot at a time, one match at a time, and see what happens. The common goal is just win as many matches as you can.”

Girls golf

While coach Mike Buscemi admits a two-win 2012 season didn't go as well as he hoped, he believes his team should have a better fate this season.

Norwin returns five letterwinners, including four starters, from last season's campaign and also brings in a strong seven-person freshman class. Buscemi said freshman Morgan Johnson shot the best rounds during last week's tryouts.

“With the talent we have coming back and with the inclusion of this freshman, who has real good mechanics and is playing well, I'm excited (for the season),” Buscemi said.

Seniors Rachael DelBene and Lindsey Robinson, junior Kaitlyn Spehar and sophomore Ember Toth will join Johnson in the starting lineup to begin the season. All four gained significant starting experience last season, Buscemi said.

Sophomore Alyssa Idele, who also played last season, will compete for playing time with the other five.

“Rachael, Lindsey, Kaitlyn and Ember have all seen a lot of action last year, and they had a nice tryout session for two days (with) some nice scores,” Buscemi said. “Alyssa saw a little bit of playing time last year, but (I've) also seen improvements in her. She's in my sixth position right now, (and) I expect her to compete for a slot sometime this season. She's just a few strokes off.”

Buscemi said he was excited about the size of the freshman class, which includes a few players with experience in Holley Sanner, Rachel Howard and Taylor Dunn, as well as newer players in Steffany Froggatt, Lizzy Pusateri and Naina Navalgund.

Norwin will compete in Section 3-AAA with Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Kiski, Penn-Trafford and Shady Side Academy. Penn-Trafford won the WPIAL championship last season.

The Knights were scheduled to host Shady Side Academy in nonsection play Tuesday at Cherry Creek Golf Course before traveling to play Fox Chapel on Thursday at Pittsburgh Field Club.

“Obviously I have high hopes as a coach, coming in with some returning starters and having those freshmen do so well, which is nice to see,” Buscemi said. “I feel like I have five girls that can go out and play competitive golf in this league, so we're going to take this one match at a time and see what happens at the end of the year.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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