Franklin Regional golfers savor WPIAL championship round at Oakmont

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Saturday, October 17, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Brooke Horvath and Caroline Tragesser have played numerous rounds of golf together at various courses.

But the duo from Franklin Regional were in for a new experience when they qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA individual championship.

Already key contributors to the Panthers’ section-title run and a trip to the team finals, Horvath and Tragesser took their games to famed Oakmont Country Club earlier this month and, while they did not advance to the next phase of the postseason, they made lasting memories.

Oakmont is one of the most challenging courses in the world and is known for hosting major championship competition. It has been home to a USGA record nine U.S. Opens.

“We were out there having fun, waving to each other,” said Horvath, a senior. “What a great way to end my career. It was great for both of us to be there.”

Oakmont can be hot and cold running anxiety for even world-class players. It had never hosted the WPIAL girls tournament before.

The field had small successes and large setbacks, as expected. Mt. Lebanon junior Lindsey Powanda showed nerves of steel on the way to a 5-over 80 to take home the title.

Tragesser, a junior, birdied the first hole and kept things steady for 16 holes, even moving into a tie for eighth, but had trouble closing out her round.

“I birdied the par 3 (No. 13) but then I had a four-putt,” she said. “I drove into the bunker on No. 17. ‘Big Mouth’ got a lot of people. I needed to do a better job of avoiding sand traps.”

Tragesser faded from state contention and finished with a 95 (47-48), tied for 13th.

The top five finishers qualified for the PIAA tournament Oct. 20 in York.

Tragesser improved on her 20th-place finish as a sophomore.

Horvath shot 105 to finish 27th out of 35 players. She improved nine shots from the front nine to the back.

“I’m so laid back I really didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the season,” she said. “Oakmont is such an incredible place. I knew it would be difficult, but if I wasn’t playing my best, I didn’t want to get down. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the experience.”

Franklin Regional coach Kane Daignault, who never had two WPIAL finals qualifiers in his 13 years leading the program, said he expected Tragesser to get to Oakmont. But Horvath was a pleasant surprise.

Horvath is usually the Panthers’ No. 4 starter.

“She played the round of her life at the (section) qualifier,” he said. “I mean, it was like 1983 when NC State won the (NCAA basketball) tournament. It was really something for us to get both of them through. They’re going to look back on this and say it was pretty cool.”

For the second year in a row, Tragesser qualified for the WPIAL finals while her brother, Chuck, did the same on the boys’ side. He is a senior for the Panthers.

Horvath’s sister, Baylee, qualified for the WPIAL finals two years ago.

The girls’ father works in irrigation sales and has done projects at Oakmont.

“This is going to make me such a better player,” Caroline Tragesser said. “Getting to play Oakmont was an awesome experience.”

Franklin Regional has made the WPIAL team playoffs four straight years.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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