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Milito crowned county golf champ

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004

Nic Milito was disappointed two weeks ago when he missed advancing to the WPIAL championship tournament by one stroke. He felt like a PGA Tour player who had lost his playing card.

The Greensburg Central Catholic junior rebounded Monday as he shot a 3-over-par 74 to win the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament in wet, chilly conditions at Champion Lakes Golf Club in Bolivar.

Greater Latrobe senior Shane Brant also shot 74 after a morning frost delay, but Milito was given the first-place medal after a scorecard playoff. The tiebreaker came down to which player had the better scores on the lowest-to-highest handicapped holes.

Milito's round included a 1-over 36 on the aerated back nine. He hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and made birdies at Nos. 5, 7 and 18.

"I hit the ball pretty well for how wet it was," said Milito, who is the first cousin of former Greensburg Central standout twins Ron and Dave DeNunzio. "I made a bogey at No. 1, but played well after that.

"It's a good feeling to win a tournament like this, with this many kids in the field."

The tournament had been dormant since the 1970s, but it was resurrected by the WCCA, which also runs championship events for the county's wrestling, swimming, track, volleyball and cross country teams.

Brant, who also did not qualify for the WPIAL finals, fired a 35 on the back nine. GCC's Marc Perez took third with a 75.

Kiski Area captured the team title by six shots over GCC. The win was extra special to the Cavaliers because, despite a 15-5 regular-season, they failed to finish in the top two in a tough section and did not qualify for the WPIAL team playoffs.

Four Kiski Area players broke 80, including junior Luke Gross and Nick Brucker, who each shot 76. Gross was awarded the fourth-place medal on a tiebreaker.

"I thought we could get four guys in the 70s," said Kiski Area coach Rich Mottura. It's a nice feeling to know we beat some playoff teams that were here today."

"I guess this is the next-best thing to the playoffs," Brucker said. "The way we look at it, we're the best third-place team in the country."

Bryan Bustamante of Greensburg Salem also shot a 76, including a 1-under 35 on the front side.

GCC used yesterday's event to get a preview of the course it will play again today in the Division II team semifinals.

The Centurions will take on Center, Freeport, Jefferson-Morgan, North Catholic, Seton-La Salle, Shenango, South Side Beaver and Southmoreland beginning at 10 a.m. The low three teams will advance to the WPIAL finals 10 a.m. Thursday at Cedarbrook in Rostraver Township.

The Centurions made the finals last year, finishing second to South Fayette.

Monessen was disqualified from the team competition because it arrived late. Burrell, Jeannette, Belle Vernon and Southmoreland decided not to attend the tournament.

Champion Lakes owner and former Pirates shortstop Dick Groat, the 1960 National League Most Valuable Player and a member of the Pirates championship team that year, gave a short speech to the players after a buffet lunch.

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