Riverside’s Skyler Fox wins 1st PIAA golf title

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 8:48 PM

YORK — Riverside senior Skyler Fox always has played well in the PIAA Class AA golf championship, but he always came up short.

He had three top-five finishes in the state tournament at Heritage Hills Golf Resort, but Tuesday, Fox finally finished the deal.

During a year when he came up short of being a four-time WPIAL champion, Fox earned the biggest prize, his first state title.

Fox put together two 1-over-par rounds, finishing at 2-over 144 to earn a gold medal.

He began the round tied, but two early birdies gave him a cushion. Cowanesque Valley senior Austin Outman was second at 5-over 147.

“This is awesome,” Fox said. “I would have loved to win WPIALs four times, but my main goal was to win here, so I’m not mad.

“My mindset was to go out and play steady. I knew it would be tough to go low, so I tried to make par and a few birdies. I tried to stay around even.”

Fox is one of the most accomplished golfers in the WPIAL. He played in the USGA U.S. Open Sectional at Woodmont, Md., one step from making the Open.

He also has won numerous junior tournaments in the area.

“This was a great way to end my high school career,” Fox said. “I played a good first round. I didn’t know if we’d get this round in, so I definitely wanted to post a good score.”

The PIAA moved the tee times up to an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start because of the threat of heavy rain in the afternoon. The weather didn’t hit until after the conclusion of play.

“I did a lot of things right,” Fox said. “Definitely hit my driver, 3-wood and long irons well. I struggled a bit with my putter, but I did make a lot long putts.”

Riverside coach Bob Nathan said Fox is the best golfer he has coached.

“He has a great work ethic, and he works hard,” Nathan said. “It was hard on him when he didn’t win the fourth WPIAL title. He wanted it badly. After three top-five finishes, he probably wouldn’t have been satisfied if he didn’t win it all and he did it. He worked so hard.”

Fox said he’s unsure where he’ll play in college.

Chartiers-Houston senior Jack Hritsko finished seventh, Sewickley Academy senior J.F. Aber ninth and Shenango junior Tommy George 10th.

Two other WPIAL golfers — Greensburg Central Catholic senior Meghan Zambruno and Shady Side Academy junior Adam Lauer — were in the running for titles midway through but faltered at the end.

Zambruno, a first-round Class AA leader, was tied with North East (District 10) sophomore Lydia Swan and Mercyhurst Prep senior Sarah White with six holes left. But Zambruno and White stumbled, and Rockwood junior Vileska Gelpi got hot.

Gelpi and Swan tied after regulation, and Swan won with a birdie putt on the first playoff hole.

White placed third and Zambruno fourth.

“I wasn’t as focused as I was on Monday,” Zambruno said. “I started off good, but when the wind picked up, I had problems. It was downhill from there.”

Zambruno only has hours to get over her disappointing finish because she hopes to lead her team to another PIAA title. The Centurions won their first in 2018.

Lauer (142) started quickly with some early birdies and took the lead, but a stretch of three holes (Nos. 9-11) cost him. It started with a triple bogey 7 on No. 9.

“I started really well, and I think I got a little nervous and made a few bad swings,” Lauer said. “I hit it out of bounds on No. 9. I rebounded a little and was able to finish fifth. I’ll try to learn from my mistakes.”

Central Catholic freshman Rocco Salvitti (143) finished seventh, and three WPIAL golfers tied for 10th: Pine-Richland senior Donnie Professori, Upper St. Clair senior Nathan Piatt and junior Scott Jordan each finished with a 149.

The Class AAA winner was Central York senior Carson Bacha, who shot an 8-under 134.

No WPIAL Class AAA girl finished in the top 5. The best finish was eighth by Peters Township junior Ella McRoberts.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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