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Sewickley Academy sending 3 golfers to Western Regional

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Keenan Hickton of Sewickley Academy competes during the WPIAL boys Class AA golf championship Wednesday Sept. 25, 2013, at Sewickley Heights Country Club.

The WPIAL Class AA boys golf championship last week was a history making day for Sewickley Academy.

The Panthers had three golfers reach the event at Sewickley Heights Golf Club. All three golfers had a strong day and qualified for the PIAA West Regional.

”I was nervous because the course is difficult,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “You can get in trouble quick and good golfers can shoot an 86 or 87. I am very pleased to have three of our golfers make it to states.

“Last year was the first year we had two qualify. This year is a new record.”

Leading the way was Keenan Hickton in fourth place with a 78. Despite being happy he advanced, the senior expressed disappointment finishing behind WPIAL champion Matt Barto by three strokes.

“I did good enough to move on but I am pretty disappointed,” Hickton said. “I left a lot out there. I didn't have my best game. I was able to get a low enough score to move on, and that is the ultimate goal here.”

While Hickton will make his second appearance at the regional, he will be joined by two new faces to the event. Junior Anthony Muscato and senior Sam Duerr both finished in the top 16 to move onto next round.

Muscato finished in ninth with an 80. It was a redeeming day on the course for Muscato, as he qualified for the WPIAL championship as a freshman but fell short of qualifying as a sophomore.

“That was a terrible feeling last year,” Muscato said. “It was a huge letdown. But I came into this season focused. It is a good feeling to move on because it let me know all my hard work paid off.”

Duerr finished in 13th with an 81.

“I only started playing golf seriously since the beginning of last spring,” Duerr said. “I have been just working on improving. I know making the state level is a special opportunity.”

Quaker Valley also will have a representative at the regional, as Alex Tanabe finished 14th with a score of 81. After a rough front nine where he shot a 42 — third highest among the PIAA qualifiers — he recovered for a 39 on the back nine.

“I went through the front nine and I started to fall off,” the junior said. “I had a few bogies. But I responded well on the back nine with a few pars. Overall, I am happy with how I played.”

In his first appearance at the WPIAL championship, Tanabe had a leg up on the competition at Sewickley Heights, Quaker Valley's home course.

“I felt comfortable because it is like a second home for me,” Tanabe said. “It helped knowing where I could hit shots.”

Alex's younger brother, Chris, also competed at the event, finishing 33rd with a 92.

“I should have done better,” the freshman said. “Everything was good except for my putting. I had a lot of three putts. But it was a good experience. I think it should help me mature and become a better golfer.”

The PIAA Western Regional is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Tom's Run Golf Club in Blairsville.

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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