Sewickley Academy boys golf rebuilds after claiming past 4 WPIAL titles

Monday, August 14, 2017 | 5:51 PM

The Sewickley Academy boys golf team is restocking the cupboard after a four-year run that saw it earn four WPIAL Class AA titles and one PIAA crown.

The Panthers lost three starters, including past WPIAL and PIAA champion Jason Li.

Li, a Carnegie Mellon recruit, placed second in the WPIAL and fourth in the state last season.

Declan Hickton (Rochester) also is competing in college.

“We have been most fortunate to have had an incredible run, due to an outstanding array of golfers,” Panthers coach Win Palmer said. “Even though this will be the most inexperienced team we have had in quite a while, we possess a hungry group of young men who have been working hard on their games this summer.”

Senior Will Nocito is the top returning player.

Nocito placed ninth in the 2016 WPIAL individual championships and 12th in the PIAA. He helped the Panthers, the defending champion, to second place in the PIAA team event.

“We are (losing) some key guys, but we have a solid group returning,” said Nocito, 17, who lives in Sewickley. “I (expect) us to do well, have fun and improve throughout the season.”

Senior Peter Curran and sophomore JF Aber are other experienced players. Palmer said Curran came on strong late last year, and Aber had a stellar season, earning a starting spot as a freshman.

Curran, 17, of Sewickley said a team effort is needed by the Panthers.

“This year's team is very well-rounded, and it will take contributions from everyone to replace the seniors who have moved on,” he said. “We expect to be competitive and believe we have what it takes to repeat as WPIAL champions.”

Seniors Cole Luther and Dave Groetsch and juniors Matt Klemash and Landen Shirley will play.

The Panthers will compete in tournaments Aug. 19 and 21 before kicking off Section 9-AA play Aug. 22 against Cornell.

Quaker Valley is eager to knock the Panthers off the section perch.

Chris Tanabe, the 2016 PIAA champion, is playing for Bucknell, but others are back.

Junior Michael Tanabe, Chris' brother, qualified for the WPIAL individual championships last season and helped the Quakers to the WPIAL team tournament.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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