Gateway golfers show early improvement in quest for playoff berth

Sunday, September 10, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Noah Colberg shot a nine-hole round of 50 in a match Aug. 16 at Willowbrook Country Club.

It was the Gateway senior’s highest round of the season.

Just a couple of weeks later, he owned a trio of rounds in the 30s with a pair of 38s against both Penn Hills and Kiski Area in home matches Sept. 1 and 5, respectively, at Murrysville Golf Course.

Colberg said his personal improvement is something that is seen all throughout the Gateway boys golf team this season as a mix of experience and newer competitors find their way around the course in practice rounds and matches.

“We have all been progressing as a team, and I have kind of just been building off of that,” said Colberg, whose 42.89 average after nine matches was the best on the team. “There’s a lot of energy on this team. We get pretty hyped up for matches. There is a lot of chemistry in practices, and that is carrying over to matches. Myself and a few others are back from last year, but there are some newer faces who are working hard to be better golfers. We’re settling in and are playing better as a team.”

Colberg, juniors Joey Jurczak and Ryan Valentine, and sophomore Dan Bozicevic returned this season with the most varsity match experience.

They were the top four in average through the Sept. 5 setback against Kiski Area which put the Gators at 4-5 overall and in a competitive Section 4-3A behind Franklin Regional (6-0), Central Catholic (4-1), Kiski Area (5-2) and Plum (4-2).

The top two teams in the section qualify for the WPIAL team playoffs. A tie for second place would mean those tied teams also would qualify. Central Catholic is the defending WPIAL Class 3A champion, and Plum made it to the 2022 WPIAL finals.

“There could be two really good teams that don’t make the playoffs,” Doonan said. “This section is so deep with a lot of talented golfers. I think we are right behind those teams and are knocking on the door. The competition they’ve faced and some of the courses they’ve played like Willowbrook twice and Edgewood Country Club — those challenging courses — are making them better golfers. It is really good for them.”

Jurczak is second on the team with a 45.89 average, followed by Bozicevic (47.50) and Valentine (49.11).

Both Bozicevic and Jurczak fired rounds of 40 in the 213-228 victory over Penn Hills. The 213 score was the best for a Gateway boys team on a par 36 since September 2020.

In the Aug. 16 match with Kiski at Willowbrook, the team shot 264.

“We were pretty excited about that (improvement),” Doonan said. “If they can improve that much, maybe they can work to get it down to around 200 by the end of the season. That would be a drastic improvement. That’s 12 strokes a guy. I remind the guys to focus on shooting their best score and not worrying so much on what the other team is doing. It comes down to shot by shot. I actually quoted Ted Lasso where he talks about being a goldfish. You have to quickly forget about the last shot, whatever it was, and focus on the next one. That definitely applies to golf.”

Doonan said some of the team members worked on their games with rounds over the summer.

“There are enthusiastic golfers on this team,” Doonan said.

“I don’t know if anyone works as much as Joey Jurczak. He sees me in the morning in home room, and he wants to talk about golf. After the matches with Plum and Kiski at Willowbrook, he asked the pro, after he finished playing, if he could go over to the range and continue to work. That is the attitude that will help this team keep getting better and challenge these top teams.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at


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