Pine-Richland golfers focused on making strides

Saturday, September 19, 2020 | 11:01 AM

At the midpoint of the season, Pine-Richland’s golf teams have traveled in opposite paths in the win and loss columns.

The boys team was undefeated in its section through Sept. 16, and the girls team still was searching for its first victory.

The one similarity is the coaches are more focused on consistent individual progress than how well they compare to other teams.

“Our seniors have really stepped up from where they were last year,” boys coach Jeff Seybert said. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

Seybert expected senior Nick Piper, who made the WPIAL finals last season, to lead the team.

“Nick is a three-year letterwinner, and he has a lot of experience in tournaments,” Seybert said. “He can make the pressure shots along with Mark Terchick, whose iron play has been great. He’s dropping some putts, and it’s really helping.”

Seybert said seniors Matthew Lennon and Sam Perry also have elevated their game, sometimes climbing to the top of the leaderboard.

Lennon shot a 1-under-par 35 to lead the Rams to a dominant 187-204 win Sept. 16 against Seneca Valley, the second-ranked team in the section. Perry and Piper followed Lennon by one stroke.

Combined with the progress of junior Andrew Ni and sophomore Tobias Kitay, who are getting their first experiences playing at the varsity level this season, the Rams have been a force in each match.

“Against North Allegheny and Shaler, Matthew and Toby were our medalists,” Seybert said. “It’s nice to see a sophomore stepping up like that, and we won the match against North Allegheny, 206-207, one stroke.”

A nonconference tri-match match at Fox Chapel Golf Club that resulted in a pair of losses against Central Catholic and Shady Side Academy showed how close Pine-Richland is to the top teams in WPIAL.

“They may be two of the top two or three teams, and it was a 192 tie between them,” Seybert said. “We shot a 195, a couple strokes here or there at a location most of our kids have never played at.”

The girls team typically has shot in the 220-230 range this season, but if everyone can put together their best day at the same time, girls coach Jared Slimm feels their score could drop below 200.

“We laugh every day, sometimes at ourselves and sometimes as a collective,” Slimm said. “We aren’t afraid to acknowledge that golf is a fun sport. We can turn on the intensity when we need to, but most of all we enjoy being together on the course, and we want to help each other get better, which truly has been the best part of coaching for me.”

Seniors Emerson Dickson, Hannah McNamara and Briella Ruby have stepped up as leaders on a team that dwindled in roster size after some players opted out during the covid-19 pandemic.

“The seniors have done really well from technique and strategy standpoints to really building team chemistry and trying to help our sophomores,” Slimm said. “We talk a lot about how it’s seen as an individual sport, but also how we can’t do well unless everyone continues to improve. We’re trying to push that we are all in this together.”

Dickson is in her fourth year at the varsity level.

“She has really shown the younger girls a lot in how to approach golf from the mental side of things,” Slimm said. “She never gets too high or too low. She is a really steady hand to produce on the golf course, especially this season.”

Sophomores Eleah Dickson, Emily Campbell and Ruby McCune round out the team.

“We definitely don’t think we’ve met our potential yet,” Slimm said. “We ate some nasty scores early, but we know we’re getting better, and we’re working at showing all of our improvements on a more consistent level.”


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