Gateway sophomore golfer stays alive in quest for PIAA championship trip

Michael Love
| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Gateway sophomore Johnna Beehner is one step closer to her goal of returning to the PIAA individual girls golf championship tournament.

She took the next step on Monday at the WPIAL Class AAA individual finals at Hillcrest Country Club in Lower Burrell.

Beehner finished seventh in the Class AAA field and won a playoff over Shady Side Academy sophomore Casey Morrow to earn a spot in next Wednesday's PIAA qualifier at Tom's Run Golf Club at Chestnut Ridge in Blairsville.

“I played alright but not as well as I would've liked,” Beehner said.

“But it was enough to advance.”

The top seven from Class AAA and eight more from the AA side advanced to the PIAA qualifier.

Beehner was 12th in AAA after nine holes, as she stood at 43 at the mid point of her round.

Morrow was four strokes ahead at the turn, but Beehner fired a 41 on the back nine, while Morrow carded a 45. That set up a sudden-death playoff on No. 1.

Both sent their second shots of the playoff into the sand near the green.

Beehner's shot out of the bunker landed five feet from the hole. Morrow also reached the green on her third shot, but her par putt didn't go in.

That left Beehner with a downhill 5-footer for par and the playoff victory.

She sank the putt to clinch the qualifying spot.

“She made a great shot to get up and down and then made an excellent putt,” Gateway head coach Dennis Persin said.

“It was a clutch putt with everything on the line.”

Beehner was one of four sophomores out of the seven AAA golfers who advanced. She was the only one from Section 3 to move on.

Morrow won the Section 3 qualifier at Vandergrift Golf Club on Sept. 18 with a round of 75, while Beehner was second with a 78.

Four Penn-Trafford golfers were in the WPIAL field. Senior Casey Doran led the Warriors with a 10th-place finish.

Beehner said she knows the Tom's Run course pretty well, as she played their in last year's PIAA qualifier.

She shot an 86 and finished tied for fifth at last year's state qualifier at Tom's Run.

Beehner also played a round at Tom's Run over the summer.

“(Monday) was about survive and advance,” Persin said. “It's a clean slate. It comes down to the next round.”

The Gateway girls team won for the first time this season last Thursday in a match against Franklin Regional. The Gators were victorious 206-220, as Beehner led the way with a 38.

Kendall Alexander, Cassie Kokal and Abbi Semnitsky each added scores of 56.

One day earlier, in a section match with Indiana at Murrysville Golf Course, Gateway fired its best team score of the season — 205.

However, Indiana also scored its season best and won, 193-205.

Beehner carded a 41 over nine holes, while Alexander shot a 49.

Alexander was the first Gators golfer other than Beehner to break 50 in a match this season.

Kokal added a 55, and Semnitsky shot a 60.

Section 4 cross country

The Gateway boys and girls varsity cross country teams took to the course at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park for the Section 4-AAA championship meet Tuesday afternoon.

The Gators joined runners from eight other schools for the one-day event that featured separate varsity boys and girls races and a single JV race.

The top five finishers for each team were compared against the finishers from the other eight teams to arrive at a win-loss record to determine the section champion.

The Gateway girls split their eight results. The Gators beat Plum (27-30), Penn Hills (20-49), Highands (15-50) and Woodland Hills (15-50) but lost to Fox Chapel (15-47), Kiski Area (15-47), Oakland Catholic (15-43) and Allderdice (21-37).

Kiski Area had the top four individual finishers and won the team title.

Sophomore Katie Heasley led Gateway with a 23rd-place finish, while senior Tameka Williams and sophomore Maria Reynolds were 24th and 25th, respectively.

The Gateway boys finished 3-5 and scored wins over Allderdice (28-29), Highlands (15-50) and Woodland Hills (15-50).

Sophomore Liam Connolly topped the Gateway boys with a 17th-place overall finish.

The Fox Chapel boys squad, led by the senior duo of Ethan and Colin Martin, won the section title, followed by Plum in second and Pittsburgh Central Catholic in third.

Gateway is set to run at the Central Catholic Invitational at Pittsburgh's Schenley Park on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

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