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Sewickley Academy's Hickton on par early in season

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Keenan Hickton takes a swing during a match against Cornell Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, at Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley Heights.

Sewickley Academy golfer Keenan Hickton is off to a good start this season.

How good? His coach doesn't think he could be doing any better.

“I can't imagine how he could,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “He has been magnificent. He has been lights out. We have had some great golfers here, and his start is the best I have seen.”

The senior has led the Panthers to a 5-0 start thanks in part to his impressive performance. Hickton has averaged 33 strokes per nine holes during the run and has been under par at each match. His lowest score came at Marada Golf Course against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart where he shot a 4-under par 31.

Hickton also shot an even par 72 at the Chairman's Cup at Cedarbrook Golf Course — site of the WPIAL finals — and a 67 at the Ponderosa Shootout at Ponderosa Golf Course. The score tied him for the low round of the day and is the lowest 18-hole total in a tournament in Sewickley Academy's history.

While most golfers would love to have these scores, Hickton isn't satisfied.

“I am pretty happy with how I have been playing,” Hickton said. “But I don't think it is a good thing to be too content too early.”

The senior is motivated after a successful postseason in 2012. Hickton reached the PIAA finals and finished in sixth-place with a 152 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York at the two-day event.

While the postseason success should be beneficial, Hickton knows the challenge will be greater as a senior.

“What is interesting is there was a lot of juniors last year,” Hickton said. “You realize you have to improve if you want to get better than those players.”

Hickton now has knowledge of each course he will see in the postseason. The WPIAL finals are held at Cedarbook, the West Regional is held at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville and the PIAA finals are held at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.

“There will also be an advantage with playing so late,” Hickton said. “You get used to playing in tough weather because it got so late in the season when you are not normally golfing. If I make it again, I should be prepared.”

While he is motivated for solo success, he is also committed to team glory. The Panthers reached the WPIAL Class AA finals last season, where their score of 415 was second only to Burgettstown's 411.

“It is easy to compare it to my sophomore year,” Hickton said. “That year we finished second to Neshannock, who blew everyone away and we were happy with the finish. But last year, Burgettstown didn't necessarily have a great day. We felt like we lost it.”

“All of us came into this season with a chip on our shoulder.”

While Hickton's low scores have been a huge asset to the Panthers, his greatest contribution may be his leadership. Palmer said when Hickton was a freshman, senior Charlie Carbeau worked with him to improve his game. Four years later, Hickton has now become the mentor.

“He is now helping the talented freshmen we have,” Palmer said. “His leadership is invaluable. It is a joy to have Hickton on the team.”

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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