Thomas Jefferson golfers closing in on section title
The Thomas Jefferson boys' golf team is well on its way to a section championship and a trip to the WPIAL playoffs.
Anchored by seven seniors, the veteran team is is 10-0 with six matches remaining on the schedule.
“To be honest, I think we surprised some teams this year,” Adam Shosky, the Jaguars' head coach, said. “Our goal was to take down both Baldwin and Mt. Lebanon, and we did that.”
Baldwin and Mt. Lebanon are strong programs in Section 6-AAA, with numerous golf titles and playoff appearances.
The Jaguars won a hotly contested match versus Mt. Lebanon by three strokes at their home course at Cedarbrook earlier in the season. Last week, the TJ golfers won by two strokes at Mt. Lebanon.
“We haven't won in Mt. Lebanon in years,” Shosky said. “It came down to the last hole.”
Thomas Jefferson followed up that big win with a victory against Baldwin. Beating Baldwin and Mt. Lebanon twice virtually guarantees a section title for the Jaguars.
Shosky took over the program this season after serving for several years as the junior varsity coach.
A 2003 Thomas Jefferson graduate, Shosky played golf for former head coach Brian Farley. He is a health and physical education teacher at Pleasant Hills Middle School.
“I knew all of these seniors when they were in middle school,” Shosky said. “This group of guys couldn't wait to play golf in high school.
“That's what's so cool about this team. We've never had seven seniors on one team. They're all friends.”
TJ's varsity team consists of seniors Zach Uhlyar, Steve Kunzman, Keith Miller, Jake Benack, Adam Patrick, Anthony Campano and Nick Tamburi, along with sophomore Brendan Kelly.
Shosky is grateful for the opportunity to coach this particular group.
“I feel extremely lucky that these guys stuck with golf and I get to coach them and they're having success,” he said.
Miller has the best average — 38 — on the team, followed closely by Patrick, with a 39 average.
“(Miller) is very consistent from tee to green. He rarely makes any mistakes. If he does, he has a calm head, too,” Shosky said.
“(Patrick) is a long, lanky kid who can hit the ball a long distance. He's just a good, quality player.”
Shosky is optimistic about how his team will do down the stretch. Most of the team members have played varsity golf for four years, and many played in area tournaments during the summer.
“These kids are pretty battle-tested,” he said.
Shosky is hoping the Jaguars can do well in the team championships.
“The biggest goal was to be undefeated section champion,” he said. “If we can get through the playoffs, that would be great. The (WPIAL) championships are at our home course this year and that would be really nice.”
Patrick, Kelly advance to semis
The WPIAL Class AAA individual qualifiers were held earlier this week at 3 Lakes Golf Course.
Patrick shot a round of 78 and Kelly a 79 to qualify for the semifinals.
Four Baldwin golfers advanced to the WPIAL semifinals — Bailey Cavanaugh (78), Zack Taylor (76), Alexx Suchy (81) and Kevin Sullivan (78 ).
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.