Fox Chapel golfers place second at WPIAL championships
Fox Chapel didn't play its best golf — not by a long shot. After the team shot 411, players wanted to call information to find the nearest restaurant for dinner plans.
But then came some good news at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver: The Foxes finished second in the WPIAL Class AAA championship. Suddenly, the skies brightened and they were going home with an unexpected consolation prize.
“I know our guys are disappointed,” Foxes coach Bryan Deal said. “That was by far our highest score of the year. To finish second is great. I feel kind of stunned. But we'll take it.”
The Foxes, who finished 15-0 during the regular season and were aiming for their first title since 2006, might have had a tough time beating champion Upper St. Clair on a good day.
The Panthers came out throwing darts and took home their second title in three years by shooting 381. Seniors Grant Engel (69), Thomas Steve (71) and Patrick McDonnell (71) combined to finish 5-under-par.
“We knew we had to play our absolute best to beat them,” Deal said of USC. “We weren't intimidated, we just didn't play our best.”
Central Catholic, the defending champion, finished third at 412.
Fox Chapel had just one player in the 70s. Freshman Anthony Cordaro carded a 78.
“I guess you could call today a good disappointment,” Cordaro said. “What (Upper St. Clair) did was very impressive. We knew we'd all have to career it to have a chance to beat them.”
Senior D.J. Diethrich shot 80 and Pat Sheerer had 83 for the Foxes.
Two other Alle-Kiski teams competed in the Class AA championship. Freeport made its second straight trip, while Kittanning played in the finals for the first time.
Freeport got a 6-over 78 from senior Cole Hepler on the way to a 418 total and a third-place finish. Although they didn't get medals, Freeport was thrilled to take the bronze on Cedarbrook's Gold course. The Yellowjackets tied for fourth last season.
“Experience is always helpful,” Freeport coach Joe Sprumont said.
“Cole and (sophomore) Audrey (Clawson) were here last year and you could see they were more relaxed. We lost four of our top six (to graduation) but the expectations didn't change.”
Clawson, in better form following treatment and rest from a broken finger, shot 82 and sophomore Mickey Frazetta added 84.
“I think it was easier this time,” Hepler said. “I knew the course better. I felt like everything clicked for me out there.”
Kittanning (434) finished fifth out of six teams, but the number 11 stood out more on a scoresheet next to players' names.
The Wildcats' entire lineup consist of juniors. That means they plan to be back next fall, but won't need a tour guide.
“The kids might have been a little amazed by the situation; the atmosphere may have been a little much,” Kittanning coach Bud Stanley said. “But this was good for us. Our plan all through this playoff run has been to be ourselves. Don't try to be something you're not. We stuck to that.”
Noah Kunst was Kittanning's medalist with an 81 and Christian Miller and Noah Spang followed with 85s.
“You always feel like you have a chance,” Kunst said. “I like the experience we were able to get here. Next year, everyone will know what to expect and won't be nearly as nervous.”
Sewickley Academy won the Class AA title, edging Burgettstown, 398-408. Those teams flip-flopped on the leaderboard this year after Burgettstown won in 2012.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.