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Sewickley Academy girls golf team focused on continued success

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
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Sewickley Academy girls golf team poses this summer during their trip to West Virginia. From left: Taitum Shirley, Kelsey Milo, Jane Blaugrund, Brianne Thomas, Sarah Manzinger, Arden Shirley, Rachel Becker, Natalie Wei and Tanvi Rana.

After finishing second at the WPIAL Class AA championships last season, the Sewickley Academy girls golf team is out to continue their success with a young but talented team.

The Panthers finished with a score of 419 at the championships held at Cedarbrook Golf Course, behind only Central Valley's 341 and ahead of Mt. Pleasant's 442 and Derry's 455. The team finished 8-4 last season after going 3-9 in 2011.

The team lost its two top golfers from last season — Micaela Becker and Lauren Gedeon — to graduation. The Panthers spent last week at the Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W.Va. to get ready for the season as it looks to fill the void.

“The girls spent an hour and a half taking lessons from a professional and then we spent the rest of the time on the range and working on their short game,” coach Nancy Means said. “I am pretty confident going into the first week of the season.”

Leading the way will be a group of five juniors, including Rachel Becker, Sarah Manzinger, Tanvi Rana, Taitum Shirley and Brianne Thomas. All return from last season's team and Rana — last year's No. 3 — actually finished with the best score for the Panthers at the WPIAL championships with a career-best 89.

Sophomores Kelsey Milo and Jane Blaugrund both return after gaining experience last season.

“We have one freshman with Natalie Wei,” Means said. “She has a huge swing and can hit a long ball. With a little coaching and some lessons, she can be a big contributor.”

Means said Sewickley Academy's stiffest competition will be defending WPIAL Class AA champion Central Valley. While the Panthers might not be ready to knock off the Warriors this year, the pieces are being laid in place for a run in 2014.

“We have WPIALs in our sights,” Means said. “Finishing in first might be a stretch but that's not saying we couldn't do it. Once we get another year under our belt, we'll be ready to take anyone on.”

Sewickley Academy will travel to the Club at Shadow Lake to take on Central Valley at 2 p.m. Thursday. It will then travel to Ponderosa Golf Course at 10 a.m. Friday for a match against South Side Beaver.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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