Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy golfers dot WPIAL leaderboards

Sunday, October 2, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy have dominated play in Section 9-2A boys golf this season.

The defending section champion Quakers were 10-0 in the section and overall as of Sept. 27.

Sewickley, which lost to QV twice, was 10-2 in league action and 14-6 overall.

Nine members of the two rivals advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A boys championships off their performance Sept. 19 at the section qualifier at Fort Cherry Golf Course.

Four QV golfers advanced, led by sophomore Nolan Wagoner with a round of 74. The three other WPIAL qualifiers were freshman sensation Jonah Schollaert, senior Jackson Bould, the WPIAL 2A runner-up last year, and sophomore Ethan Dai with scores of 77, 78 and 79.

“I thought it was great that we had four qualifiers,” QV coach Greg Vecchi said. “All six (team members) were certainly capable, but golfers don’t always have the day they need to.”

Five Sewickley golfers advanced to the WPIAL tournament: senior Joey Mucci with a 75, sophomore Karan Kad (76), seniors Leon Jiao (81) and Nick Straka (82) and sophomore Severin Harmon (84).

The first round took place Sept. 26 on the 6,287-yard, par-70 Hannastown Golf Club course in Greensburg.

All four QV and five SA competitors advanced to the final round Oct. 4 at Oakmont Country Club.

“It’s been uplifting to see that all the hard work our golfers have been putting into their golf is reflected by our five guys making it through the section qualifier and the first round of the WPIAL individual championships,” SA coach Win Palmer said. “In each of the tournaments, we started slowly and remained focused on the next shot. Our second nine scores were much better than the first nine scores. (Some guys started on the back nine at Hannastown.)

“The guys are very excited at the opportunity to compete in the final round at Oakmont.”

Schollert tied for 10th place at Hannastown with a 78. QV teammates Bould, Dai and Wagoner carded scores of 80, 82 and 85.

“They all are probably thinking they’d like to have a few shots back, for sure,” Vecchi said. “They’ll let that go and practice over the next week to work on some things that need strengthening. I know they’re pumped to be playing Oakmont and they’re ready to climb the leaderboard.”

Schollert shot a 42-36 highlighted by four birdies, including three on the back nine. He also had five pars and seven bogeys.

“Jonah is unreal a lot of the time,” Vecchi said. “It’s hard to think that he’s a freshman since he’s played so consistently over the season. He just really loves the game.”

Mucci, whose 41-38 performance included one birdie, nine pars and six bogeys, paced the Sewickley golfers with a 79 to place 13th. Harman shot an 81, followed by Jiao (83), Straka (85) and Kad (86).

“Joey Mucci is one of many talented golfers this year in 2A,” Palmer said. “He did not have his ‘A’ game (at Hannastown) but managed to stay in the hunt for both states and to compete for a title at Oakmont. He’s five strokes behind on a golf course where scores can vary tremendously.

“However, this is not a course where you can hunt birdies as that can turn into trouble quickly, so he will have to be cautiously aggressive.”

The Panthers’ veteran golf coach added, “While we are the only school to send five players to the championship at Oakmont, our neighbor Quaker Valley will be sending four to Oakmont along with three-time defending individual champion Eva Bulger, who leads the 2A girls by four strokes. This speaks to the excellence in play by both programs.”

Harmon, who along with Mucci and Straka were WPIAL finalists in 2021, opened with a 37 on the front nine then finished with a 44 on the back nine. He drilled in back-to-back birdies on No. 6 and 7 and also collected eight pars and seven bogeys.

Vecchi rotates the following into the Quaker Valley starting lineup: Wagoner, Dai, Bould, Schollaert and seniors Eva Bulger and Adam Renner.

“We really don’t have a No. 1 golfer,” the QV coach said. “They seem to be all clogged at the top with solid averages. It’s nice that none of them care where in the order they golf. They just go out and try to golf their best.”

Bould racked up one birdie, eight pars and seven bogeys at Hannastown.

“Honestly, it was a very disappointing day for me,” Bould said. “I was fighting my short irons and wedges, which is quite abnormal for me. I left a lot of easy strokes out there because of that. I have a couple tweaks, swing-wise and mentally, to do in the days coming to prep for Round 2.

“Although I’m not in the position I’d hoped to be in, I get to play again. And any way you look at it, that’s a good thing. Oakmont is a beast in itself so anything could happen. I’m pretty familiar with the course, so I’m just going to play it like I know how to. There’s trouble everywhere you look over there; focus and confidence will be key for me.”

QV’s Wagoner finished with the second-best score at Fort Cherry behind only Eden Christian Academy junior Luke Gronbeck, who shot a 69.

“Nolan has developed quickly into a stronger golfer,” Vecchi said. “He grew some (since last season) and it was easily evident he worked hard over the summer to improve.

“I still am amazed when Nolan does that well, even this late in the season after he’s shot many great rounds. He has just improved so much in a short period of time. It doesn’t happen like that often for any age player.”

The new WPIAL format for 2A boys golf has the championships being played on two days at two courses.

A total of 77 golfers participated in the first round at Hannastown. The top 36 scores advanced to the championship round.

The top 18 players at Oakmont will advance to the state final at Penn State.

“We have no idea what the final cut will be at Oakmont,” Palmer said. “It’s a course that can produce difficulties on any shot, so we will just need to remain focused on the next shot.”

Bulger advances

Quaker Valley senior Eva Bulger was scheduled to play for her fourth WPIAL championship Oct. 3 at Valleybrook Country Club.

Bulger topped the leaderboard with an 80 in the first round Sept. 26 at the 5,520-yard, par-72 course at Youghiogheny Country Club in McKeesport.

“I prepared for Youghiogheny just like I prepare for any golf tourney,” Bulger said. “Maybe I cut it a tad short because I’ve been a little under the weather lately. I’ll be preparing the same way for the second round. Hopefully, with more energy and feeling better, but I’ll be preparing no harder or lesser if that makes sense.

“All I can do is control my process. I can’t control any results or outcomes. We’ll see what happens.”

Bulger, the third player in WPIAL girls golf history to win three straight individual titles, carded three birdies, seven pars and six bogeys at Youghiogheny.

She finished four strokes ahead of Giebel senior Claire Konieczny.

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