Hampton junior shoots for success on golf course, hockey rink

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Saturday, October 16, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Dan Venture capped his 2021 golf season as a WPIAL finalist.

A junior at Hampton, Venture shot 8-over 80 and tied for 19th at the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals Sept. 27 at Willowbrook Country Club.

Venture advanced to the championship round held Oct. 5 at Nemacolin, where he finished with a score of 90.

“Dan made it to the WPIAL finals,” Hampton coach Bruce Steckel said. “He had a terrific season but fell a little short at the finals.”

Venture and sophomore Matt Erka qualified for the WPIAL semifinal round by shooting 82 and 83 at the Section 8-3A tournament Sept. 2 at Willowbrook. Erka carded a 90 in the semifinals.

“I thought I performed well this season playing in matches and individual play,” Venture said. “I have golfed now for about five years and returned this year for my third season on the (Hampton) golf team.”

Venture, who said his strengths are his wedges and short game, also is an elite hockey player at Hampton.

He is entertaining the idea of transferring to a prep school in the Northeast so he can practice and compete at a higher level.

“Yeah, for the last year or so, I have been considering playing hockey and golf at a boarding school or prep school to further my career in both,” Venture said. “I started playing hockey very young, when I was around 4 years old, when my brother first picked it up.”

Venture mans a forward position for the Hampton hockey team, mainly at left wing or occasionally at center.

Hampton competes in the PIHL Class A Northeast Division along with Fox Chapel, Freeport and Plum.

The Talbots lost their first two games this season in an 8-1 decision against Fox Chapel and a 6-4 setback to Wheeling Catholic.

Venture scored his team’s lone goal against Fox Chapel and netted a hat trick against Wheeling Catholic. Sophomore forward Sean Sullivan also connected for a goal for Hampton.

Another top golfer for the Talbots this fall was senior captain Jake Twerdok, a four-year varsity starter.

Venture, Erka and Twerdok were complemented by freshman Tyler Schmitt, who recorded a team-best 39 on Aug. 30 against Penn-Trafford, and senior Alex Broderick, who had the top score in both wins against Kiski Area. Brokerick also logged a team-low 42 versus Fox Chapel.

“One of the nice things about this team was all the varsity golfers had extremely close averages,” Steckel said. “I’ve never had nine guys average within three strokes of each other. This enabled us to be close in every loss this season.

“We also had the leadership of our seniors: Jake Twerdok, Alex Broderick, Shaun Pfeifer and Logan Scanlon.”

Hampton posted an 8-4 section record and ended up 8-7 overall.

The Talbots went 8-0 in section play against Freeport, Highlands, Kiski Area and Knoch. Their four section defeats were to powerhouses Fox Chapel and Shady Side Academy.

Hampton’s golfers closed out the regular season with four consecutive wins before falling to SSA on Sept. 29 in their section finale.

The Talbots missed the WPIAL playoffs for a second straight year after qualifying in each of Steckel’s first seven seasons as coach.

“What was really nice was that we were able to have some solid victories with four talented young golfers who gained a lot of confidence as the year played out,” Steckel said. “The younger golfers included sophomores Matt Erka, Robert Coll, David Poirer and Avish Vyas. Matt and Robert were steady for us.

“Freshman Tyler Schmitt also played every match and was an important part of this year’s team. Tyler is a very talented golfer with a great future ahead.”

The 2022 golf season apparently can’t arrive fast enough for Steckel, Hampton’s veteran coach.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” he said, “and excited about getting these young guys to the WPIAL finals.”

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