WPIAL boys, girls golf champions crowned
Drawing on past experiences, senior-led Upper St. Clair put an unsavory end to last season behind it and blitzed the field Thursday for an imposing victory in the WPIAL Class AAA boys golf team championship.
The Panthers' second title in three years — and 16th overall — erased memories of a runner-up finish that interrupted what the team once thought would be a three-peat.
Senior Grant Engel shot the round of the day with a 3-under-par 69 and senior teammates Thomas Steve and Patrick McDonnell also finished under par with 71s as Upper St. Clair draped a score of 381 over the competition on the Gold course at Cedarbrook in Rostraver.
The Panthers topped second-place Fox Chapel (411) by 30 shots. Central Catholic, the defending champion, was third at 412.
“We knew we'd all have to career it to have a chance to beat (Upper St. Clair),” said Fox Chapel freshman Anthony Cordaro, his team's low scorer with a 78. “They're that good.”
Sewickley Academy won the Class AA boys title, while both girls champions were repeat winners: Penn-Trafford in Class AAA and Central Valley in Class AA.
Engel created buzz early when his score went up on the wall inside the clubhouse. He had six birdies and three bogeys.
“I hit it really well, but it was just a matter of my putter catching fire on the back nine,” said Engel, who is getting Division I college attention but has no offers yet. “I made a 14-footer for par on No. 13 and rode the momentum from there.
“Last year was a big disappointment. We knew coming in with five seniors we could do something special.”
Steve, who has committed to play at Notre Dame, said the Panthers had been itching for redemption. They posted a head-turning 376 in the team semis.
“After we won as sophomores, it kind of got in our heads and we thought we'd come in here and everyone would bow down to us,” said Steve, who is better than 20-under-par for the season. “We didn't play well (last year). We knew if everyone played their games and did their jobs we could get it done today.
“This year we were expecting to win. We weren't going to accept anything less.”
Sewickey Academy held off Burgettstown, 398-408, to win its first title since 2008. The teams flipped order from a year ago when Burgettstown edged the Panthers, 411-415. Sewickley Academy senior Keenan Hickton was medalist with 74. Freshman Jason Li signed for a 77.
Penn-Trafford, fresh off four straight unblemished section titles, was led by freshman Amanda Conner, who shot 79 on the Red course. The Warriors shot 344 to edge North Allegheny (348).
Central Valley, which won back-to-back titles in Division II before the WPIAL went to the Class AA label, fired a 310 and won by 82 shots. Warriors' sophomore Madison McDanel shot 1-over 72, senior Macky Fouse, the WPIAL individual champion, added 76 and freshman Alex Bozich carded 78.
“We knew if we played our best we could win it again,” Fouse said.
All four champions advance to the PIAA West Region Tournament Wednesday at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.