Taylor, Suchy primed for golf success at Baldwin
Jim Stanko retired last year after a long and distinguished coaching career at Baldwin High School.
Stanko was inducted into the Baldwin sports hall of fame last fall following a 25-year career coaching Baldwin golfers.
The cupboard certainly wasn't left bare for Steve Sinning, the Highlanders rookie head coach.
“Our goal every year is to compete for a section championship,” Sinning said. “We have several golfers who will compete for individual awards, but we're focused on putting up six solid rounds match in and match out.
“The top of our lineup is consistent and strong. Although many talented golfers play in our section, we believe we can compete for a section championship.”
Sinning welcomed five returning lettermen from last year's team, including 2010 WPIAL champion Zack Taylor, a senior and fourth-year starter.
“My expectations for the team (are) to make it to the WPIAL finals,” Taylor said.
Seniors Alexx Suchy and Shawn Cusick, and juniors Kevin Sullivan and Jeff Wallander, all played varsity golf and earned varsity letters a year ago.
“My goals are to be first-team all-section, win team section, and to make it to states individually,” Suchy said. “I would just like to end my high school season on a high note. Playing golf over the past four years has taught me a lot, and I've had great times playing high school golf. I just want to go out with a bang.”
Taylor and Suchy believe the strongest clubs in their bags are their irons. Both exude confidence in their irons play.
“I think the strengths of my game would be my wedge through my long iron shots,” Taylor said. “I also think I am good at recovering from shots where I am in trouble.”
Said Suchy, “My short game is my biggest asset; it saves me from a lot of big scores because I can save par or bogey from around the green.”
The returning lettermen are joined on the team by sophomores Alex Garda and Zach Winkowski, along with top freshman prospect Anthony DiLucia.
“Our players are buying into a different type of program than they are used to,” Sinning said. “As a first-year coach, our team is worried about what we can do on the course. We encourage competition within our team. No spots are set in stone, and we push each other in practice range sessions, practice rounds and the actual matches through friendly competitions.
“(Our) students have gone out of there way to attend optional practice sessions at local courses and driving ranges throughout the summer. They have actively fundraised and earned over $3,500 in additional revenue. The desire to learn and improve will lead to positive results for a good number of our players.”
Taylor and Suchy had a whirlwind summer season. Both enjoyed great success.
“I was very busy golfing this summer and had a few nice finishes,” Taylor said. “At the state junior (tourney) in Hershey, I shot 73, 74 and finished fifth out of 114.
“I also had a good AJGA tournament-finish in Kentucky, where I finished tied for sixth out of 108 kids.”
Suchy won three King junior golf tournaments — at Butler's, Stonecrest and Green Oaks (Cuden Memorial) — and finished with an average score of 73.4.
“My summer was great,” he said. “I won (at Stonecrest) in a playoff with a birdie.”
Sinning expects the summer success experienced by Taylor and Suchy to spill over into the 2014 high school season.
“They have been playing very well,” Sinning said. “Zack just returned from a stroke-play event that he was invited to through the WPGA in Montreal, Canada.”
Baldwin opened section play Monday at home with a 220-228 victory against local rival Thomas Jefferson, the defending section champion.
Baldwin was led by Taylor (39), Sullivan (40), Winkowski (44), Suchy (46) and Cusick 51) in the scoring column.
Thomas Jefferson was paced by junior Brendan Kelly (41), sophomore Zach Wagner (48), junior Jon Bilski (44), sophomore Paige Gennaula (52) and junior Jeff Dean (45).
One of the pleasant surprises early in the season for the Highlanders has been the performance of DiLucia, who is one of the youngest golfers in the program.
“Anthony has been a breath of fresh air in the program,” Sinning said. “He really just started playing in the last year, and drastically improved over the winter,” Sinning said.
“He earned his spot on varsity, and the experience that he will gain this year will drastically help him in the near future.”
The Highlanders are scheduled to play today, Thursday, at home against McKeesport at South Hills Country Club, and will be on the road Monday against Mt. Lebanon.
Ray Fisher is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.