Sewickley Academy, QV golfers set sights on PIAA championship
After coming close to winning last season, Sewickley Academy senior Jason Li and Quaker Valley senior Chris Tanabe will begin their quests for a state title at the PIAA Class AA West Region boys individual golf tournament Oct. 17 at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville, Indiana County.
Li and Tanabe, both of Sewickley, qualified by placing second and fourth, respectively, at the WPIAL championship last week at the Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley Heights.
The top 22 scorers at the regional tournament will advance to the PIAA championship Oct. 24-25 at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort and Conference Center in York.
Tanabe was PIAA runner-up last year.
Li, the regional champion, was third.
Li hopes to rebound after failing to defend his WPIAL crown.
Li shot a 73 at the WPIAL final, one stroke behind the winner, Riverside freshman Skyler Fox.
Tanabe trailed at 74.
“I like where my game is,” Li said. “We'll see moving forward.”
Tanabe, the 2014 WPIAL champion, is looking for improvement.
“I was fighting my swing for most of the day,” he said. “I had a slow, frustrating start with a 4-over-par 39 on the front nine but relied on my experience to regroup.
“On (the) 15th and 16th holes, I had two 4- to 5-foot putts I missed and still hurts to think about.”
Quaker Valley coach Greg Vecchi was impressed by Tanabe, even in defeat.
“(He was) just a few strokes off the lead all day,” Vecchi said. “He's a scoring machine.”
Sewickley Academy seniors Will Nocito (77) and Ryan Gex (79) placed ninth and 12th and also qualified for the regional tournament.
Gex, of Sewickley Heights, believes he can play better.
“I need to work on reading greens better from a close distance to the hole,” he said. “I can putt the ball on a correct line most of the time; it's just a matter of finding the correct read.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.