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Last chance for Kittanning golfer Klodowski

| Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, 12:25 a.m.
Kittanning senior Jordan Klodowski watches his shot during the Section 1-AA qualifier on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, at Lenape Heights Golf Course. Klodowski finished second to qualify for the WPIAL Class AA championship on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. Bill West | Leader Times

Kittanning's drop to Class AA in boys golf left Jordan Klodowski with one less hurdle to clear in his pursuit of WPIAL glory. Now the senior has to capitalize on the opportunity.

Klodowski enters Monday's Class AA individual championship at Youghiogheny Country Club with a fair portion of individual postseason experience. The past two seasons, he competed in Class AAA, where he twice advanced to semifinal-round qualifiers but fell short of the final.

This time, no semifinal stood between the final and Klodowski, who placed second in the Section 1-AA qualifier Wednesday to earn a spot in the championship, which begins at 9 a.m. and includes 50 participants.

“I guess in that sense it might be a little easier, that it's a shortcut,” Klodowski said. “But I'm not looking at it as getting past the finals. I'm looking at it as getting past the second round.”

Even if he misses out on a title, Klodowski can qualify for the first PIAA Class AA Western Regional. In the past, Class AA golfers, then known as “Division II” members, competed in the Division I championship to secure a shot at the Western Regional.

“Each year, I feel like if I play well enough, it shouldn't be much of a problem (to advance),” Klodowski said. “Unfortunately, I've had bad days the past couple years. I'm not trying to play it up as much.”

The PIAA will hold a Class AA individual championship for the first time Oct. 22 and 23 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.

Klodowski is one of several local seniors who hopes to finish his individual golf career on a high note. Freeport senior Richard VanDruff advanced out of the sectional round for the first time when he won the Section 3-AA qualifier with a 76. Apollo-Ridge senior Adam Lockwood and West Shamokin senior Anthony Rocco made the cut at the Section 1-AA tournament for a second straight year by tying for fifth at 82.

“I'm just going to go out and try to be loose about it,” Rocco said of the final. “I was really tight in the qualifiers because I put it on myself that I had to do it. And I almost blew it by missing a putt on the last green.”

A year ago, Rocco shot 87 at New Castle Country Club to tie for 34th in the Division II final. The senior aspires for a much higher finish but admits his performances have not matched what he did as a junior.

“I'm definitely not happy with how I'm playing right now,” Rocco said.

The best contender for a WPIAL title from the Armstrong area is Leechburg junior Matt Barto. He shot 74 to tie for second a season ago. As a freshman, he took seventh with an 80 at Youghiogheny Country Club.

“I loved Youghiogheny last time,” he said. “The greens were excellent, and the course was tight. I topped my tee shot on the first hole and got off to a terrible start but regrouped to shoot 41-39, so I was happy with that.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wwest@tribweb.com.

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