Hampton golf caps another successful season

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Monday, October 16, 2017 | 12:21 AM


It seems like Hampton golf coach Bruce Steckel has lost a lot of talented seniors the last couple of years. He also seems to have an equal number of talented seniors on the rise.

That's been a major reason for Hampton's consistency — it's the fifth consecutive year the Talbots made the WPIAL playoffs.

This one, however, wasn't the sure thing some past seasons have been. The Talbots lost two section matches combined the last two seasons en route to 8-AAA championships.

But a couple of early losses left the team behind the 8-ball this year before rebounding to secure a playoff berth. Though the team lost in the WPIAL semifinals again and no individuals qualified for the Western Regionals, the solid team season was well-earned.

“During the season we kind of gelled,” coach Bruce Steckel said. “This was basically a senior team, but a lot of these guys never played together. Half were from varsity, and half were from JV. It took a while to kick in.”

A big victory late in the season against section nemesis Shady Side Academy propelled Hampton (12-5, 9-3) to the WPIAL semifinals at Ponderosa C.C. in Hookstown, where it shot a 406 — not quite enough to advance.

But it was a tale of redemption for top golfer Justin Griffith, who suffered through a miserable section tournament and did not qualify for WPIALs. Griffith finished tied for second at Oakmont last year in the WPIAL Championships.

“It was unfortunate for the timing,” Griffith said. “I probably had my worst day in a long time. What are you going to do?”

Griffith rebounded to help pace Hampton with an even-round 72 at Ponderosa.

“I know I just had a bad day,” said Griffith, who plans to play in college but hasn't committed yet.

“It wasn't anything I had to worry about to get through the rut I was in.”

Said Steckel: “He had a great run. To go out on a golf course he's never played and shoot a 72.”

Seniors Ryan Dayton and Nathan Johnstonbaugh advanced past sections, with Dayton making it to the WPIAL finals at Nemacolin. Freshman Matthew Rozumberka emerged as a possible future team ace.

“He'll be one of the veterans coming back as a sophomore,” Steckel said of Rozumberka, who had to be pulled from the WPIAL semifinals with a back injury. Hampton was unable to drop its highest individual score as a result.

“Our section was better this year,” Steckel said. “Armstrong and Mars were good. It was a bit of a tougher road. But they put their heads down and did their thing. I was proud of them for that.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.

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