Franklin Regional shocks Greensburg CC for girls county golf title in wild finish

Thursday, September 9, 2021 | 5:24 PM

Franklin Regional must have felt like it was stuck in the traffic circle in downtown Ligonier and couldn’t get out.

The Panthers ran the gamut of emotions Thursday at the fifth annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association Girls Golf Championship at Champion Lakes Golf Course, going from apparent runners-up to champions in a nine-hole tournament that looked harmless enough — until the bizarre twist at the end.

Following suit, the individual title also came with unexpected drama as Panthers senior Caroline Tragesser edged freshman teammate Anna Qin in a scorecard playoff.

To the shocking conclusion …

Just as the WCCA was about to award two-time defending champion Greensburg Central Catholic its third team title, it came to Franklin Regional coach Kane Daignault’s attention that a GCC player’s score was wrong.

Daignault asked for the numbers to be rechecked. Liv Kana turned in a 48 but actually scored 50 — the result of an erroneously tabulated score in her group, despite Kana’s hole-by-hole number adding up to 50.

The difference was small, but it changed the course of the tournament as Franklin Regional sidestepped the Centurions for a one-stroke victory, 179-180.

As one bystander put it, every stroke counts.

“It was a wild situation,” Daignault said. “I knew if our girls came together as a team, we could compete with the better teams here. We figured, let’s go out and play and see what happens. I am happy for our girls.”

Tragesser and Qin matched 41s and initially thought the scorecard playoff would start on the first hole, the No. 1 handicap hole. That meant Qin would have won.

But it turned out that is the men’s No. 1 handicap hole, not the women’s, so No. 8 was used first to break the tie. Tragesser’s bogey on the hole was better than Qin’s double and, poof, the senior was a county champ.

Tragesser went from the bittersweet sensation of losing to a teammate, whom she also wanted to see do well, to earning the gold medal.

The team title allowed her to double down on the zany day and walk away with a stuck-on smile.

“It was like, I didn’t do good, got better, was upset at the end, then I was happy again,” Tragesser said. “We had high hopes for today, but we also weren’t going to get too excited because GCC is a really great team. We weren’t expecting to win, but after me, Anna, Gwen, Ali and Cam all came in, it came down to one stroke … it’s really special for us.”

Ali Boyle (47) and Cameron Alexander (50) also contributed for Franklin Regional.

The WCCA began awarding a team title in 2018. GCC won that year, and in ’19, but the tournament was canceled last year, necessitated by the pandemic.

“I wanted to come in here and play for my team,” said GCC senior Meghan Zambruno, a St. Francis (Pa.) commit who finished third with a 42. “The team (title) is important to us.”

Zambruno won the county title in ’18. Her twin sister, Ella, tied teammate Izzy Aigner with a 44.

GCC, searching for a seventh straight WPIAL Class 2A title, also has produced three county champs in Meghan Zambruno, Angelika Dewicki (2019) and Olivia Zambruno (’16).

Penn-Trafford’s Anna Stowers won in ’17.

The Centurions, who have not lost a regular-season match since ’16 and carded a 150 earlier this season, are not used to finishing second. Of course, neither is Franklin Regional, at least not this year.

GCC and Franklin Regional both are 4-0 so far in 2021.

Tragesser, a WPIAL finalist last year at Oakmont, leads the team. On this day, she led the 47-player field, making birdies on holes 4 and 5 to offset a pair of double bogeys. She rolled in a 10-foot putt on No. 4 and hit the par-5 fifth green in two shots.

“I had the mindset that maybe I could finish in the top three,” Tragesser said. “It’s a tough course, so you really can’t predict anything.

“I have been waiting for three years to get to this point. I knew I played well and I was in the mindset I was going to win. I was so excited for Anna and we were one and two.”

Qin, pronounced “chin,” has been a pleasant surprise as a first-year starter for the Panthers, playing in the No. 2 spot.

“I didn’t expect to play well today because I hit it bad in practice (Wednesday),” said Qin, whose parents are from China. “Today, everything came together.”

Qin said she hit her best drive of the day on No. 9. She sank an 18-foot putt for birdie there for 41.

“I did better than what I expected,” Qin said. “I think all my work paid off, and I am excited to see how I do in future tournaments. I thought I could score a top 10, but I didn’t think I would tie for first.”

Daignault said he wanted his players to focus on how they played, not about GCC’s lofty standing.

“It’s not like basketball or football,” he said. “GCC isn’t going to block shots or prevent the ball from going into the hole. We had to control what we did.”

Hempfield’s Raina Jones (47) and Milanna Yannascoli (52) also finished inside the top 10 to earn medals. The first-year program finished third in the team standings (208).

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

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