Norwin golfers relish 1st trip to WPIAL championship

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Sunday, October 25, 2020 | 11:01 AM


As Sal Cerilli walked up the 18th fairway on the Gold course at Cedarbrook, he felt a sense of finality kick in.

The Norwin senior, while enjoying the sights and sounds of the Knights’ maiden trip to the WPIAL Class AAA boys golf championship, knew this was the end of something special.

“It has been a fun ride,” said Cerilli, who recently committed to play at Pitt-Johnstown. “As I walked up 18, it was tough to think this is it. How quickly the last four years went by.”

Norwin had a banner season for the program. The Knights tied for a section title, their first; qualified for the playoffs for the first time; and reached the Class 3A finals.

Any added success in the championship tournament would have been gravy.

“The kids enjoyed it,” coach Neil Rushnock said. “They’ll always have the experience of being here.”

Rushnock will lose 10 seniors who made up one of the program’s deepest and most talented teams.

The Knights shot 440 to finish sixth out of six teams in the finals Oct. 15 in Rostraver. Cerilli and Trent Kablach each shot 83, Logan Divald added an 89, Nathan Graham had 92, and Ronnie Howard carded 93 in windy conditions.

“I am so grateful to be part of this,” Cerilli said. “We have been playing together since seventh grade, and we’ve come a long way. We had ups and downs during the season.”

Norwin shook off a late-season loss to Indiana and made the playoffs.

“You can’t win them all,” Cerilli said.

Norwin shot 396 in the semifinal tournament at River Forest Country Club to qualify for the championship.

Cerilli and Kablach led the way with matching 76s, Divald shot 79, Howard 81 and Alex Graham 84.

Graham is a freshman and will be one of the few returnees. Cerilli’s brother, Dom, will be an incoming freshman to watch.

“We came close the last couple years but it was nice to see them get through,” Rushnock said. “They can say they were the first team to get to the playoffs.

“They are all seniors and played together well.”

Norwin moved home matches to Youghiogheny Country Club about five years ago, which helped the team sharpen its skills and prepare to face better competition.

“You really have to play each hole and forget about the bad ones,” said Cerilli, who also had college interest from Robert Morris, Washington & Jefferson and Penn State Altoona. “We did that this year.”

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

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