By Jim Hunter
GUYS MILLS —
Another dynasty is brewing at Saegertown: golf.
Energized by three freshmen and junior Greg Beers’ 83, the youth-ladened Panthers clinched their second consecutive Region 4 championship on Tuesday at Mt. Hope Golf Course.
Heading into the final day as the front-runner with 10 points, Saegertown secured the top spot with a team-best 341 score and finished with 14 points.
Union City shot a 352 and finished second with 12 points.
Cambridge Springs placed third with 10 points and Maplewood logged four points during the season.
In Saegertown’s run to the 2012 championship, the Panthers were mainly senior dominant, leaving head coach Brian Hanley with iffy feelings heading into the 2013 season.
The young Panthers stunned their mentor.
“Honestly, this championship is somewhat unexpected,” he said. “We only had one returning starter (Beers) from last year’s team and three of our six players are freshmen.”
SHS’s freshmen were key factors in the clinching win. Jake Sada matched Beers’ team low with an 83 and Ricky Kanline and Nick Palmer shot 86 and 89, respectively.
Palmer’s recent emergence has Hanley bubbling with enthusiasm.
“Nick has been a pleasant surprise,” said Hanley. “I put him in two mega matches the last two weeks and he has come up huge. And, this is a kid who just started playing the game this year.
“He has been playing four-to-five times a week and you can tell he is getting better. He is a good athlete and greater things are ahead for him.”
Palmer was Hanley’s next-to-last golfer, and the promising frosh delivered the clinching words to the Panthers’ boss.
“When he told me that he shot an 89, I knew our chances were really good of winning the region,” said Hanley.
Sada got off to a sizzling start — shooting a 39 on front nine. The back nine didn’t go as smoothly as he shot a 44.
“I could have very easily been in the mid 70s if I played better on the back nine.” he said.
Highly touted Trevor Rodgers of Cambridge Springs had the lowest score with an 81 among the four schools, but the Spa senior wasn’t in the celebrating mood afterwards.
“I am really disappointed in my play,” he said. “By far, this is the worst I’ve played in a while. I hit the ball poorly and when I did hit the ball decent, I didn’t get a break.”
Rodgers only managed one birdie and had an uncharacteristic four double-bogeys.
He was classy in defeat — congratulating Hanley with a firm handshake after it was officially announced that the Panthers had won the championship.
Hanley only had positive words for Rodgers.
“Trevor is a great player and I wish the best for him in the future,” said Hanley.