Penn-Trafford golf teams look for continued success
The Penn-Trafford boys golf team is hoping to win a championship this season.
The girls team, meanwhile, wants another one.
Both the Penn-Trafford boys and girls teams teed off their 2013 regular seasons earlier this week, as the girls team looked to match a 2012 season that included a WPIAL title and second-place finish in the PIAA tournament. The boys looked to return to the postseason after a three-year drought.
Below is a look at each team as it entered the season:
After two straight second-place finishes in the WPIAL Division II Championships, Penn-Trafford finally broke through in 2012, fending off six other teams to win the WPIAL Class AAA title. The Warriors followed that up with a runner-up finish at the 2012 PIAA Team Golf Championships, coming in 16 strokes behind Radnor.
Matching those feats in 2012 won't be easy.
Penn-Trafford must replace graduated seniors Mia Barchetti, Haley Borkovich and Morgan Rector. All three are playing golf collegiately, with Barchetti and Borkovich both playing at Division I schools.
“We have a pretty solid team right now,” coach Ed Herbst said. “We're nowhere near where we were last year (because) we had some real talent last year. ... We lost a lot, but these girls are ready to step up. If they work hard, I think we can be a challenging team for the championship again.”
Three players with starting experience return in seniors Royse Bachtel, Casey Doran and Rachael Huber.
“Royse and Casey were starters, and they now realize they're (Nos.) 1 and 2 and they're going to be playing girls who are just as good or maybe even better than they are,” Herbst said. “They have been really grinding. They don't want to give it up. They want to repeat. And with as good of kids as they are, it's going to be fun to watch them get even better.”
Returning junior Elisabeth Papa and incoming freshman Amanda Connor round out the five starting spots. Connor finished fourth in her age division in points at the Kings Restaurant/Tri-State PGA Junior Series this summer.
Juniors Abbey Bechtell, Morgan Cermac and Maddie Vitelli also figure to start some matches this year for the Warriors, Herbst said.
Penn-Trafford opened its season with a road match at section foe Gateway on Tuesday and was scheduled to play Mt. Pleasant in a nonsection match Wednesday. Both competitions ended past the deadline for this week's edition.
The Warriors will host section foe Indiana on Thursday before traveling to play Peters Township on Friday.
“I tell them they're the (WPIAL) champions until the season starts, but then they become the defending champions,” Herbst said. “They have the experience of being in the finals and winning. ... Hopefully, we'll be able to maybe get back to the finals and hopefully repeat.”
The Warriors' boys golf team began its new season with a new coach, as former Penn-Trafford golfer Andy Rizzardi took over this season for Walt Bechtell.
“When I became a teacher, I thought one nice thing would be to get back into the golf,” said Rizzardi, who was Penn-Trafford's bowling coach for 10 years. “ ... (Bowling) was a nice opportunity to get coaching and get involved with kids, but being a golfer in high school and all that, I always thought it would be nice to do this.”
Penn-Trafford is looking to advance to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2009, when it advanced to the team finals before falling short of a title.
To reach that level again, the Warriors must replace a graduated senior class that included Max Doran, who finished in 25th place at the PIAA Class AAA Individual Championships last season.
Rizzardi expected seniors Evan Astley and Dom Cervone and sophomore Justin Guzik to lead the team this season, while junior Trey Brown and sophomores Jared Barton and David Callihan should also compete for starting spots.
“They're a good bunch of kids,” Rizzardi said. “There was a great competition for the tryouts. There's some promising talent out there that unfortunately didn't get to make the team.”
The Warriors began the season with a 201-205 loss to Indiana on Monday at Westmoreland Country Club. Guzik led the Warriors by shooting 36, tied for the lowest score with Indiana's Matt Holuta. Penn-Trafford will host Elizabeth Forward in a nonsection match Thursday before returning to section play with a home match against Greensburg Salem on Monday.
“We're all doing well, I think, and we're going to work together and hopefully have a successful season,” Rizzardi said.