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Franklin Regional boys golf earns playoff spot

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The three-way tie the Franklin Regional golf team was hoping for came through this season.

With it came the Panthers' first WPIAL playoff appearance since 2005.

Franklin Regional teed off at the WPIAL Class AAA boys golf semifinals Tuesday morning at River Forest Country Club in Freeport. The Panthers were competing against Fox Chapel, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski, Latrobe, Peters Township, Plum and Shady Side Academy, with the top three teams advancing to Thursday's team finals at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver.

“It's nice to be there,” coach Jeff Traphagen said. “We can get the guys coming back next year some playing experience in that, let them see what it's like. You're not playing with a partner; you're playing with guys from other teams. It's a little bit different, and some of the guys actually like it that way.”

Franklin Regional qualified for the playoffs after finishing in a three-way tie for second place in the section with Kiski and Plum. All three teams finished with four section losses.

In head-to-head play, Franklin Regional beat Kiski twice, Plum beat Franklin Regional twice and Kiski beat Plum twice. Fox Chapel won the section with an undefeated record.

“We're actually happy to see Plum and Kiski and Fox Chapel all in the same place (Tuesday),” Traphagen said. “... Even though it was a three-way tie for second place, I feel like we are the second-best team in (the section), especially when you bump it up to 18 holes.”

River Forest is a familiar course to several of Franklin Regional's players, as Fox Chapel uses it for junior varsity tournaments.

“We know it's a tight course,” Traphagen said. “There's a ton of trees on the course, with a lot of shade. There's a couple holes where you have some approach shots over water, some par 3s that are pretty tight. Just understanding what side of the hole to miss it to if you're going to miss it (is important). We'll talk about that going in, just basically playing the course in a smart way (and) not throwing up any big numbers.”

Tuesday's competition ended past the deadline for this week's edition. Traphagen said while he was hoping to see the team finish in the top three and advance to the finals on Thursday, a top-five finish would be a good building block for next season, when several experienced players return.

“With some of the experience some of the other teams have, I think being in the middle of the pack would be nice,” he said. “Finishing in the top 4 or 5 would be a huge stepping stone to try to get back there next year.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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