GCC’s Zambruno, Franklin Regional’s Jackson advance to PIAA golf tournament

Monday, October 16, 2017 | 9:54 PM

Greensburg Central Catholic junior Abby Zambruno is a two-time PIAA qualifier in golf.

Now that her sister, Olivia, is a freshman at Penn State, Abby hopes to continue the family dominance at the state competition next Monday and Tuesday at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.

Olivia won the past three Class AA titles, and now Abby hopes she can continue the string.

At the PIAA West Region Golf Championship on Monday at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge Resort in Blairsville, Zambruno improved her stock by taking medalists honors in Class AA with a 4-over-par 76.

The other medalists were: Pine-Richland junior Lauren Freyvogel (AAA girls) at 2-over 74, Erie Cathedral Prep junior Pat Kelly (AAA boys) at 1-under 71 and Central Cambria senior Alex Kiepert (AA boys) at even-par 70.

The WPIAL advanced 32 of 44 golfers (11 of 15 AA boys, 10 of 14 AAA boys, 6 of 8 AA girls and 5 of 7 AAA girls).

“I played very consistent,” Zambruno said. “I'm very satisfied how I played. This tournament prepares for next week. I was just looking to qualify.

“It's going to be a lot different. There is more pressure because my sister is gone, and everyone is expecting me to win. But I'm not going to let it get the best of me and go out and play.”

Zambruno placed ninth in the state tournament in 2016 and 17th as a freshman.

“I came in wanting to win, so it's great how things turned out,” Zambruno said. “I didn't have anything more than a bogey.”

Winning the WPIAL Class AAA boys golf title has been a curse the past three seasons.

Freyvogel said the key to her success was keeping the ball in play: hitting fairways and greens.

“I putted well, and I kept the ball low and out of the wind,” Freyvogel said. “My putting saved me a couple of shots.”

Freyvogel finished seventh in 2015 and fourth in '16.

“I feel I'm better prepared to go after the title,” Freyvogel said. “I know the course better and know where I have to hit the ball.”

After celebrating a big win one week, the WPIAL Class AAA champion often has failed to advance to the PIAA tournament.

The latest to come up short was Moon senior Chris Sabol.

The previous champions to miss the state event were Peters Township's Hunter Bruce in 2015 and Fox Chapel's Gregor Meyer in 2016.

The other three WPIAL champions — Riverside's Skyler Fox (AA boys), Sewickley Academy's Tatum McKelvey (AA girls) and North Allegheny's Caroline Wrigley (AAA girls) — made the state tournament without taking medalist honors.

Two-time PIAA qualifier and placewinner Brady Pevarnik also failed to qualify.

The Latrobe junior shot an 80.

“I played awful,” Pevarnik said. “If I putted like normal, I would have shot a 75. I didn't deserve to advance.”

Franklin Regional junior Palmer Jackson said his game wasn't up to par, but he survived and advanced.

“I struggled,” Jackson said after he shot a 1-over 73 and finished third to Kelly and Central Catholic junior Neal Shipley. “I made two bad decisions and missed some spots, which killed me.

“I'm looking forward to the state tournament. I like a 36-hole event. I know the course is demanding, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.”

Jackson is a two-time placewinner. He placed seventh as a freshman in 2015 and ninth in '16.

Shipley said the WPIAL championship always has one player come out of nowhere to win.

“When I play an event like this, I don't focus on a target score,” Shipley said. “I play the course. Things worked out well.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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