West Shamokin golf team looks to solidify lineup
A season ago, West Shamokin's golf team enjoyed the benefits of a deep, talented lineup while its Section 1-AA foes waited for inexperienced starters to accumulate varsity time and course wisdom.
This year, it's the Wolves who are looking for ways to secure their top six while others in the section boast loaded lineups.
West Shamokin, a year removed from a section title and a 17-1 overall record, will try to sustain team success that stretches to 2006, when the Wolves made their first of five Class AA playoff appearances in six years. Four golfers with substantial varsity experience return, and much of West Shamokin's hopes rest in them.
“We definitely need to be serious about our matches,” said senior Anthony Rocco, the team's top golfer in 2011. “Last year, we were pretty solid, and other teams weren't. But this year, it's going to be a little different. It's going to be a fight the whole way.”
Rocco has turned in scores that are just a few strokes over par with regularity for most of his high school career. His power off the tee is almost unparalleled in the section. But Rocco knows he must deliver complete performances — solid drives and a sound short game — in every match this season.
“Everything under 40,” he said. “I've got to stay near par, at least. … I just need to keep it in the short grass.”
When Dylan Kube, Dylan Crise and Cory Egley scored well a season ago, they further enhanced a potent West Shamokin lineup.
Egley, a junior, and Kube, a senior, finished strong in 2011, as both scored in West Shamokin's top three at the WPIAL team semifinals at Beaver Valley Country Club — Egley shot an 18-hole score of 88, second only to Rocco, while Kube finished with a 90.
Crise, a senior, though not involved with the team playoffs, scored in the top five on a few occasions last season.
But their roles have shifted from capable alternates to critical contributors.
“There's definitely more pressure on (us),” Kube said. “I don't know if it makes me any better or worse. I play about the same, either way.”
Bettering West Shamokin's first-time starters is a priority for the four golfers. They understand how many matches come down to the fifth scorer.
“We're definitely trying to help out with as much as you can, really anything you see on the course,” Kube said.
Options for the final two spots in the starting lineup include sophomore Austin Porter, junior Tyler Peters, seniors Zach Zahorchak and Emil Ihnat and freshmen Andrew Johnston and Ryan Bradigan-Burnett — Zahorchak and Ihnat are former Elderton starters.
The man in charge of creating the lineup, first-year coach Tom McClaine, is pleased with the progress he has witnessed during the offseason and first week of official practice.
“It's a joy whenever you're watching kids hit the ball, even on the range or practicing chipping and putting on the putting green, and they put a tip into practice and you see improvement,” McClaine said. “That's the joy or the benefit that the coach gets.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303 ext. 1321.