Local boys shut out of PIAAs
FARMINGTON -- Highlands sophomore Brad Cieslinski could blame his putter. Or, he could point to his driver as the reason he didn't qualify for the PIAA golf championships.
What Cieslinski won't do, however, is get down on himself after shooting an 8-over-par 80 Monday to finish 17th -- one spot out of the top 16 and a trip to states -- at the WPIAL boys individual golf championship at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa's Mystic Rock Golf Course.
"That's okay, there's always next year," said Cieslinski, who went to a sudden-death playoff with three other players on the neighboring Links course to decide the alternate spot. After sinking a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 2, he'll be the first to get a phone call if one of the top 16 players withdraws from the state tournament Oct. 25-26 at Heritage Hills Resort in York.
Some may view Monday as more tough luck for Cieslinski, who has no idea what it feels like to win a team match. Highlands is 0-34 since Cieslinski joined the team as a freshman.
Not that he's the reason for the losing skid. He consistently shoots in the mid-30s in nine-hole matches.
"I have a feeling a win is coming soon," he said. "It has to happen soon."
After playing in the first group of the day, Cieslinski, who shot 41 on the back nine, waited more than three hours for the final leaderboard to be posted. He spent a portion of that time on the practice putting green at the resort's John Daly Learning Center, the command center for Monday's action.
"I was 5-over the last six holes because I missed a lot of short putts," said Cieslinski, who finished 13th last year at the WPIAL tournament, and 30th at the PIAA championship. "I had a great ball-striking round, but couldn't get it going on the greens."
He also shot 80 in the WPIAL finals last year at Cedarbrook.
Cieslinski's round included 35 putts. He hit 11 greens in regulation.
"Who knows, if the putter's working today, maybe I shoot 72 or 73," he said. "I have to learn to keep the driver in the bag when I'm hitting my 3-wood well. I pulled it out on 16 (par 5) when I hadn't hit it since No. 6. I hooked it bad there, and did the same thing at 18. I should have stayed with the 3-wood."
Senior Mike Van Sickle of Pine-Richland became the 10th player in league history to win back-to-back titles, firing a 3-over 75, including 1-under 35 on the back nine on the same course that hosted the PGA Tour's 84 Lumber Classic two weeks ago.
The greens weren't as fast as they were for the Tour players, but the rough was thick and a light wind gave players extra motivation to keep it in the fairway.
"The wind made you think a little bit," Cieslinski said.
Deer Lakes senior Dan Steinsdoerfer shot 38 on the back nine on the way to an 83 and a tie for 24th out of 40 players.
He was the first Deer Lakes finals qualifier since at least 1990.
"This is an awesome course," Steinsdoerfer said. "I gave it my best. I wish I could have played a little better, but I was happy to just make it here."
Steinsdoerfer said he had only one bad hole, the par-5 eighth, where he made a nine.
"I hit two out of bounds there," he said.
Shady Side Academy junior Andrew Abranovic, a Kittanning resident, struggled to a 95, shooting 53 on the front nine.
"I hate golf," Abranovic joked as he came off the course.
NOTES: The last Alle-Kiski boy to win a WPIAL championship was Nate Speer of Burrell in 1998. ... Shady Side Academy has not had a boy in the state tournament since Tom Kim in 1996. North semifinal medalist Mike Hootman, a senior for the Indians, shot 87. ... Central Catholic's Zach Johns, an alternate in the semifinals, shot 79 to qualify for states. ... Van Sickle's 35 was the lowest nine-hole score for any boy or girl in Monday's finals. He also shot 75 to win last year. ... WPIAL golf committee chairman Jerry Roman said the league is hoping to have the boys and girls finals at Nemacolin again in 2005.
WPIAL boys individual golf championship
At Mystic Rock Golf Course, par 72
(Top 16 advance to PIAA championship)
1. Mike Van Sickle, Pine-Richland 40-35 75
2. Ryan Bashour, Brownsville 36-40 76
Will Corbett, North Allegheny 36-40 76
Drew Ellis, Carlynton 37-39 76
Alex Morse, North Allegheny 37-39 76
6. Mike Hartman, Shaler 39-38 77
Dan Obremski, Penn-Trafford 37-40 77
Robert Shogry, Upper St. Clair 39-38 77
9. Jimmy Ellis, Peters Township 38-40 78
Jim Markovitz, South Fayette 37-41 78
James McGrath, Geibel Catholic 37-41 78
Donald Thomas, Franklin Regional 39-39 78
13. Zach Johns, Central Catholic 39-40 79
Matt Rebitch, Greensburg Salem 40-39 79
Mike Turner, North Allegheny 39-40 79
Jeff Varga, Gateway 37-42 79
17. Brad Cieslinski, Highlands 39-41 80*
Christian Goetz, Burgettstown 40-40 80
Matt Sampson, South Fayette 41-39 80
Derek White, Ringgold 38-42 80
21. Chad Kokoska, Jefferson-Morgan 40-41 81
22. Wes Mensing, Hampton 40-42 82
Jansen Visconti, Latrobe 42-40 82
24. Dustin Dreher, Greensburg Central 41-42 83
Leif Edgar, Franklin Regional 45-38 83
Anthony Flick, Baldwin 42-41 83
Brendan Madden, Thomas Jefferson 39-44 83
Doug Stadler, North Catholic 38-45 83
Jake Pleczkowski, North Catholic 43-40 83
Dan Steinsdoerfer, Deer Lakes 45-38 83
Rich Tiberio, Greensburg Central 40-43 83
32. John Popeck, Trinity 43-42 85
33. Tom Edwards, Quaker Valley 43-43 86
Kevin Hart, South Fayette 37-49 86
Jason Lyon, Hampton 43-43 86
36. Luke Baumgardner, Freedom 43-44 87
Mike Hootman, Shady Side Academy 41-46 87
38. Scott Haines, Hempfield Area 45-43 88
39. Mike Fedor, Greensburg Salem 48-46 94
40. Andrew Abranovic, Shady Side Academy 53-42 95
* -- Alternate