Sewickley Academy athlete of the week: Landen Shirley
By: Shawn Annarelli
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 | 7:03 AM
Claim to fame: Landen Shirley knew what was expected of Sewickley Academy’s golf team, a program that had won five consecutive WPIAL team championships heading into last week’s tournament.
The Panthers added another trophy to their resume, and six consecutive championships makes Sewickley Academy the longest running golf dynasty in WPIAL history. The only other program with at least five straight titles was Turtle Creek in the 1930s.
Shirley led the way and was the only Sewickley Academy player to break 80 with a score of 76.
Do you feel that every season’s success is measured by whether Sewickley Academy repeats as WPIAL champion?
I’d say it’s a collective effort across the team to win championships. Our success is better measured by our preparedness and our hard-worth ethic throughout the year. We want to be in contention for every match. If that’s good enough to win the WPIALs, that’s exciting. If not, there are still good things we can take away from it.
How much pressure did you feel heading into the WPIAL tournament?
There was a lot of pressure, because it is my senior year. It felt like it was my last hoorah, so I really wanted to capture the title. With the team being so good, I was pretty confident. When I heard scores coming in during last couple holes I knew we were in a good spot.
This is the fourth time you have been a WPIAL champion. How is this title different from the first three?
The other ones, just because it was not my senior year, if we didn’t win it wouldn’t be as bad a feeling when I knew I’d have another chance to do it. This year was really exciting to me and important to get this. I knew we could do it, and I’m glad we executed.
Did you expect to have the best score for your team in the tournament?
No. When you look at our team, we have a ton of depth. You can see some have scores that might be a little better than others, but we have so much talent that anyone can be the best on any given day. Golf is all about one good round. I was glad I was able to do that well, but I definitely didn’t think I was going to be the best on our team. That wasn’t what I thought about either. I was only thinking about our team score.
Can this team repeat as PIAA champion?
I think we can. This team actually has an issue now. When you get to states you get cut down to five people. On some teams that would be easy to do. With our team depth, I don’t know. I think that it will be really difficult doing that. I think that’s the best problem you can have heading into states, trying to figure out who will be in the starting lineup.
What was your best shot this season?
I’d say recently. In the team WPIAL finals hole 3 at Cedarbrook. I hit a shot off my tee ball a little bit right. I was left with 160 yards to go to the hole. There was a small gap between trees and not a shot I was willing to take. I tried nine iron as hard as I could, and it got all the way over the trees and right next to the green for an easy up and down.
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.
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