By Pete Chiodo
GROVE CITY —
Slippery Rock’s Brett Rinker admits he felt a little pressure.
For the first three years of his high school golf career he had managed to advance out of districts all three times.
However, with the PIAA splitting golf into two classifications (Class AAA and Class AA), and with District 10 advancing just two Class AAA golfers to the West Regional; the window of opportunity for Rinker and every other triple-A golfer became brutally narrow.
So, Rinker just went out and won the darn thing.
The Rockets’ senior fired a 2-over-par 74 at the Grove City Country Club, leading both classifications at the District 10 Individual Championships, which were held on Tuesday.
“I knew that if I stuck to my game plan I’d be all right,” said Rinker. “And if two other people beat me, then so be it.”
It was Rinker’s first championship. As a freshman, he lost the title in a three-way playoff with McDowell’s Austin Romeo and Cathedral Prep’s Greg Podufal.
“I started off struggling a little bit and got it together towards the middle of the round and finished with a bogey on 17,” Rinker said about yesterday’s event. “But overall, I finished with a 74. I was beating the kids I was playing with, so I thought 74 would get me in the top two at least.”
The conditions were far from perfect. In fact, the match was delayed by an hour due to frost on the course.
“Obviously you had to hit fairways because you couldn’t move it in the rough,” Rinker said. “And some of the pin placements today were really tough. There were some spots where you just try to get below the hole and give yourself an uphill putt.”
Joining Rinker at the Class AAA Regional, which is Monday in Blairsville at Chestnut Ridge Resort’s Tom’s Run course, will be Strong Vincent’s John Fosco, who finished second with a round of 77.
And with the first split in classifications came the first victim of District 10’s harsh triple-A cut-off. That would be Meadville freshman Zack Ford.
Ford shot a 6-over-par 78 on the day. That was the third-best round on the course on Tuesday. But it was one stroke away from the Class AAA regional tournament.
“He played great,” said Meadville head coach Fred Garvey Jr. “There were four scores under 80. He hit 78 as a freshman. He played great. He has nothing to be ashamed of.”
Also participating from Meadville was Charlie Holt, who finished eighth with an 83. Dalton Zelasco finished tied for 12th with an 88.
Meadville — the District 10 Class AAA team champion — has one more match to show what its got. On Friday, the Bulldogs will participate in a PIAA sub-regional tournament at Treasure Lake Golf Course with teams from districts 5, 6, 8 and 9. The team with the lowest score will move onto the state championship tournament, slated for Oct. 24 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.
“That takes the sting out a little big,” said Garvey, “gives them something to refocus on.”
Sculley wins Class AA
Eight golfers from the Class AA tournament advanced, including event champion Sean Sculley of Mercyhurst Prep, who won a two-hole playoff against Lakers teammate Steve Kearns.
“I made a good chip for par (on No. 2), put it close, about a foot-and-a-half,” said Sculley. “The first hole, we both ended up in the same bunker, about five yards from each other. So, it was interesting.”
Both Sculley and Kearns finished with rounds of 81.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to finish in the middle,” said Sculley. “I thought there were some low numbers out there. But the course was hard. It was long and wet, wind in your face. I struggled all day until the last five holes. I was 2-under the last five holes.”
Also advancing in double-A is Titusville’s Matt McCord (82); Cambridge Springs’ Trevor Rodgers, Fort LeBoeuf’s Justin Latsko and North East’s Brian Ropecki (each with an 83), Harbor Creek’s Teven Vargo (84) and North East’s Alex Hunter (85).
Rodgers, a junior on the Blue Devils squad, said he’s happy to move on, but wasn’t jumping for joy over his score.
“Not good at all,” he said. “The conditions were kind of tough. The greens really rolled out more than I expected. And it was really windy.
“It feels good to make it. Still, an 83 is an 83.”
District 10 Individual Championships
At Grove City Country Club (Par 72)
Class AAA Leaderboard
1. Brett Rinker, Slippery Rock 74 RQ
2. John Fosco, Strong Vincent 77 RQ
3. Zack Ford, Meadville 78
4. Andrew Britton, Cathedral Prep 79
5. Chris Kupniewski, Strong Vincent 81
Ben Lucas, Grove City 81
Bob Paczkowski, Slippery Rock 81
8. Charlie Holt, Meadville 83
9. Ryan Podufal, Cathedral Prep 84
10. Nathan Sandberg, Warren 85
11. Teddy Russell, McDowell 87
12. Nick Hayes, Cathedral Prep 88
Dalton Zelasco, Meadville 88
14. David Rinderle, McDowell 90
15. Alex Shingledecker, McDowell 91
Class AA Leaderboard
1. Sean Sculley, Mercyhurst Prep 81 RQ
Steve Kearns, Mercyhurst Prep 81 RQ
3. Matt McCord, Titusville 82 RQ
4. Trevor Rodgers, Camb. Springs 83 RQ
Justin Latsko, Fort LeBoeuf 83 RQ
Brian Ropecki, North East 83 RQ
7. Teven Vargo, Harbor Creek 84 RQ
8. Alex Hunter, North East 85 RQ
9. Chad Ferguson, Greenville 86
A.J. Rogers, Harbor Creek 86
11. Billy Colbert, Hickory 88
Eric Maginnis, Titusville 88
Cody Stinson, Harbor Creek 88
Nate Anthony, West Middlesex 88
Keamus Schuhlen, Jamestown 88
16. Pat Artac, Sharon 89
Joey Sontag, Corry 89
18. Nate Guiler, Mercer 90
Kendall King, Greenville 90
Joe Zoltowski, Harbor Creek 90
21. Tucker Ochalek, Girard 91
Ross Rosati, Hickory 91
23. Brady Byers, West Middlesex 92
Ryan Matlock, Mercyhurst Prep 92
Jacob Wilson, Kenn. Catholic 92
Note: Sculley defeated Kearns in a two-hole playoff for the championship. Rodgers was awarded fourth place via tiebreaker. Latsko was awarded fifth and Ropecki sixth.
Kaverman, Hearns win first girls titles
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — McDowell’s Megan Kaverman became the inaugural District 10 Class AAA girls golf champion, firing an 84 at Riverside Golf Club to win the individual championship on Tuesday.
Kaverman is also the lone qualifier for the PIAA West Regional tournament, which will be held Monday at Tom’s Run Golf Course at Chesnut Ridge Resort in Blairsville.
Meadville’s Lacey Latta and McDowell’s Ellen Eighmy finished tied for second with scores of 88.
The Lady Bulldogs also got a strong showing out of Kailey Malady, who was fifth with a 97.
The Class AA champion was Hickory’s Rosy Hearns. She and North East’s Megan Moylan finished the round with matching scores of 79. Hearns later won the title with a par on the second playoff hole.
Both Hearns and Moylan advanced to the regional tournament along with Villa Maria’s Annie Ciacchini (80) and Hickory’s Alena Lancia (88), who beat Villa’s Abby Fessler in a two-hole playoff.
Maplewood’s Allison Schmader finished in a tie for sixth after carding a 90.
District 10 Girls Golf Individual Championships
At Riverside Golf Club (Par 72)
Class AAA Leaderboard
1. Megan Kaverman, McDowell 84 RQ
2. Ellen Eighmy, McDowell 88
Lacey Latta, Meadville 88
4. Morgan Smith, Warren 95
5. Kailey Malady, Meadville 97
6. Mehan Smoulder, Warren 100
7. Julie Capotis, McDowell 102
8. Felicia Krasa, Meadville 109
Lindsey Swanson, McDowell 109
10. Amanda Skarlinski, McDowell 114
11. Michaela Persichini, Meadville 117
12. Abby Moore, Meadville 130
Class AA Leaderboard
1. Rosy Hearns, Hickory 79 RQ
Megan Moylan, North East 79 RQ
3. Annie Ciacchini, Villa Maria 80 RQ
4. Alena Lancia, Hickory 88 RQ
Abby Fessler, Villa Maria 88
6. Grace Brzozowski, Mercyhurst Prep 90
Georgia Capotis, Mercyhurst Prep 90
Emily Fessler, Villa Maria 90
Allison Schmader, Maplewood 90
10. Lia Fatica, Villa Maria 91
11. Fontaine McFeaters, Grove City 94
12. Jillian Johannes, Mercyhurst Prep 95
13. Brianna Colbert, Hickory 96
14. Becky Bargielski, Mercyhurst Prep 98
Mackenzie Bonnet, Girard 98
Carly Yovich, Fort LeBoeuf 98
17. Maria Clark, Reynolds 99
18. Abby Hearns, Hickory 105
Michaela Redinger, Gen. McLane 105
Jaime Vamosy, Reynolds 105
Note: Hearns defeated Moylan in a two-hole playoff for the Class AA championship. Lancia defeated Fessler in a two-hole playoff for the final double-A regional qualifier.