Quaker Valley golfers gain momentum after section win over Sewickley Academy

Sunday, September 20, 2020 | 11:01 AM

For the past seven years, the Sewickley Academy golf team has dominated its WPIAL Class AA competition, but as teams begin their 2020 season, the Panthers might have some competition.

On Sept. 15, Quaker Valley shocked the Panthers and defeated their Section 9-AA opponent 193-208 at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.

Defending WPIAL Class AA girls individual champion Eva Bulger and junior Adam Tanabe fired 37s, and sophomore Jackson Bould carded a 38 and senior Luke Melisko carded a 39. Junior Kyle Rice rounded out the top five with a 42.

Quaker Valley coach Greg Vecchi believes this is just a sign of things to come for the Quakers.

“That win could send a message to a lot of people,” Vecchi said. “All the other teams that are out there know that there is not only SA they have to deal with, but Quaker Valley as well.”

Just a year ago, the Quakers finished in fourth at the WPIAL Class AA championships, finishing five strokes out of third and 31 behind Sewickley. But, heading into this year, the Quakers lost only one starter, Aidan Bulger, who finished tied for fifth at the individual championships.

Vecchi believed this year’s team would be successful, but Sewickley Academy’s success also has reared its head.

“SA winning so many years in a row, that’s huge on everyone’s heads, and if someone said they didn’t think of SA when they thought of success this year, then they are lying to you,” Vecchi said. “But that’s why this win was such a big deal. SA is such a good team, but I think our kids learned that we are as well.”

From top to bottom, the Quakers’ starting lineup is talented. As a freshman last season, Eva Bulger won the WPIAL individual girls title by a stroke, beating the Zambruno twins, Ella and Meghan, from Greensburg Central Catholic with a 10-over-par 82 at Diamond Run Golf Club. Vecchi said having a player like her returning to the lineup is always a positive.

“It’s awesome to have her back. You can always count on her,” Vecchi said. “She always has a great mindset, and she keeps on going forward. Nothing gets in her way, and it’s something to watch for sure.”

The Quakers also return Rice, Tanabe, Melisko, Bould and sixth man Jake McMullen. Bould was the only player out of the group last year to qualify for the WPIAL individual tournament, and he ended up finishing below the state qualifier line at Allegheny Country Club.

But Vecchi believes the Quakers have talent this year. They just need to shore up a few things mentally in order to be successful this season.

“It’s just having our heads on straight,” Vecchi said. “Going into a match, where are you? Are you visualizing things or where are you? Getting a young mind to do that can be tough. I’m already so impressed with what they are doing, but that’s a key area for us. The mind game.”

Last year’s fourth-place finish was the closest the Quakers have come to a WPIAL championship since 2017 when they finished seven strokes behind Sewickley Academy, which shot a team score of 406. But the Quakers are looking to take another step forward in 2020, and their win over the Panthers was just the beginning.

“I think it’s going to do a lot for us,” Vecchi said. “We have a good tight team, and I think this will only help us.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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