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With injured teammates in hospital, Fox Chapel golfers compete at WPIAL tournament

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, 6:24 p.m.
Members of the Fox Chapel boys golf team who competed at the WPIAL championships Oct. 12, 2017, at Cedarbrook, included, from left, Matt Mattioli, Scott Bitar, Grant Thiele, Amani Dambrosio, George Thompson and Ben Uminski.
Bill Beckner | Tribune-Review
Members of the Fox Chapel boys golf team who competed at the WPIAL championships Oct. 12, 2017, at Cedarbrook, included, from left, Matt Mattioli, Scott Bitar, Grant Thiele, Amani Dambrosio, George Thompson and Ben Uminski.

Less than 24 hours after a horrific single-vehicle accident left four teammates injured, Fox Chapel's boys golf team showed up Thursday to play in the WPIAL Class AAA team championships at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver.

“This puts everything in perspective,” Foxes coach Bryan Deal said, looking out over the 18th green. “It's a parent's worst nightmare. Twenty-four hours ago we were having a team meeting about (the finals). Twenty-four hours later, (winning) is irrelevant.”

Fox Chapel was the favorite to win the Class AAA title and played reserves with its No. 1, 3 and 5 starters out. The No. 8 player also was injured.

The No. 1 player, junior Gregor Meyer, was one of the players in the SUV that crashed into a utility pole Wednesday afternoon at Field Club and Hickory Hills Road in Fox Chapel. Meyer, last year's WPIAL individual champion, was in attendance at Cedarbrook to support his teammates. He did not play, but watched the action and talked with players and coaches.

The three other boys remain in Children's Hospital. It took rescue crews more than two hours to extricate one of them from the vehicle.

The group was driving to Oakmont Country Club to play a non-school-related round of golf. They lost control of the SUV on a wet road, Deal said, and hit the pole which, along with live electrical wires, fell on top of the mangled vehicle.

“They're fortunate to have gotten out of there alive,” Deal said.

Deal said three players suffered serious injuries but “will make it through.”

The rest of the golf team planned to return to the hospital after Thursday's tournament.

“It was a long night being with my buddies in the hospital,” Fox Chapel junior and three-year starter Grant Thiele said. “Those are four of my best friends. They would have wanted us to play and give our best effort. We're here for them.”

The WPIAL had a contingency plan to move tee times had Fox Chapel withdrawn from the event. Organizers said they were proud to see the team at the finals.

“We were torn with what to do today,” Deal said. “We wanted to be there for the guys, but the team carried the banner. I'm so proud of them for playing.”

Other teams showed support for the Foxes. Central Catholic players wore red ribbons, and Shady Side Academy players wore various red items.

“The golf community is tight-knit,” Deal said. “Everyone was supporting us today, and we are grateful for that.”

Central players visited the Fox Chapel players in the hospital Wednesday evening.

“We had a team meeting (Wednesday) and said a prayer for their kids,” Central coach Corey O'Connor said. “Our guys are really close with their guys; we're in the same section, and we thrive when we play each other. It was weird not having them all here today.”

While it's an afterthought, Fox Chapel placed sixth out of six teams. The Foxes were second last year, losing by one shot to Peters Township, despite breaking the finals' scoring record with a score of 379.

Fox Chapel's last title came in 2006.

Meyer said he still hopes to play in Monday's individual PIAA West Regional at Tom's Run Golf Course.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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