New-look Bethel Park golf roster looking to embrace team concept

Saturday, August 14, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Golfers keep track of their score on individual scorecards, but Bethel Park coach Jay Kreigline promotes golf as a team sport.

“We always set our goals high and we would love to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs this season,” Kreigline said, “and be a competitive team within our section.

“With a short season and some new varsity players, they are going to have to work to quickly learn our expectations, understand that high school golf is a team sport first and learn to work hard to make each other better players.”

The Black Hawks finished 5-5 in Section 6-AAA in 2020 and 6-7 overall.

“We graduated six seniors, including our captain John Harmon,” Kreigline said. “We have four returning varsity players, including three starters.”

The other seniors on last year’s squad were Hunter Junazski, Bobby Kennedy, Matt McGrath, Scott Orzechowski and Zach Sackett.

Returning starters consist of senior Frank Visnikar (two years) and juniors Jonathan Haddox (two years) and Dom Nerone (one year). Visnikar qualified for the WPIAL semifinals last season.

“I expect the team to perform well this year, considering the large number of new players we will have,” Visnikar said. “We lost a lot of seniors, and the incoming players will have some big shoes to fill. With coach Kreigline’s leadership, it’s going to be exciting to see how we do.

“My goals are to qualify for the WPIAL semifinals again and hopefully inspire my teammates to play to the best of their ability. I expect to enjoy playing with my team and competing against the other schools.”

Andrew Kvak, a junior with varsity experience, also is back for the Black Hawks this season.

“It will be fun and interesting to see who steps up at the tryouts to take those remaining varsity spots and see who is willing to compete,” Kreigline said. “There is a big difference playing golf with your buddies and playing competitive golf.

“We had some players work hard this summer and play in some tournaments to try and gain that competitive experience.”

One, in particular, was Visnikar, who participated on the Isaly’s Junior and the Southwestern Pennsylvania golf tours.

“Both are great opportunities for players to gain experience golfing at a competitive level,” Visnikar said. “I’d encourage all players, new or experienced, to participate in these programs.

“I enjoyed the challenges of both tours. I played in 10 Isaly’s events with one top-10 finish, and I played in six SPJGT events with four top-10 finishes.”

Visnikar, who carries a 4.1 GPA, has played golf for four years and will be a third-year varsity starter this fall. He said his favorite course is Chartiers Country Club.

“My grandmother first introduced the sport to me with a set of plastic golf clubs when I was a toddler,” Visnikar said, “but I did not actually swing a real golf club until my 14th birthday when my dad took me to South Park’s nine-hole course. After that first real golf experience, I was hooked.”

Visnikar also plays tennis at Bethel Park, is a member of the National Honor Society and Latin Club and is a cellist in the chamber orchestra.

For college, he is interested in the field of architecture. And, of course, continuing his golf career.

“Frank really enjoys the game of golf,” Kreigline said. “Regardless of how he is playing each day, you can tell he is always having fun on the course. He worked hard this summer to improve his skills and played in many competitive events. His strength is his control. He is fairly consistent off the tee, which puts him in a good position to score well.”

Bethel Park’s coach said Visnikar is a great teammate with a great work ethic.

“Frank always maintains a positive attitude and has a good sense of humor,” Kreigline said. “His teammates enjoy being around him. I think that with his work ethic and attitude, he is going to be a great leader and example for our younger players.”

Bethel Park’s section opponents are Baldwin, McKeesport, Mt. Lebanon, Thomas Jefferson and West Mifflin. Mt. Lebanon and Baldwin qualified for last year’s WPIAL playoffs.

The Black Hawks’ first section match will take place Aug. 27 at home at Scenic Valley Golf Club against McKeesport.

“The closest I’ve ever come to a hole-in-one was a lip out at Scenic Valley’s 11th,” Visnikar said.


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