Sewickley Academy golf team building a championship tradition unlike any other

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Friday, September 27, 2019 | 7:20 PM


The Sewickley Academy boys golf team has a storied history.

Since 1994, the team has won 21 section titles, nine WPIAL Class AA team titles, including six straight since 2013, and two PIAA Class AA titles in 2015 and 2017.

In 2015, Jason Li captured the only boys individual title in school history.

On Thursday afternoon at Allegheny Country Club, he got some company. Senior J.F Aber shot an even-par 70 and held off Riverside’s Skyler Fox, who was in pursuit of his fourth straight individual title, by one shot at the WPIAL Class AA tournament.

“It feels great,” Aber said. “I’ve really wanted to win this tournament ever since I qualified for it my sophomore year. I came up short last year, so I worked hard, kept my head down and came out on top this time.”

While Aber led the way, he wasn’t the only Panthers player that had success at the individual championship. In fact, Sewickley Academy took five golfers to the tournament and four of them qualified for the PIAA Western Regional at Tom’s Run Golf Course in Blairsville.

Juniors Tim Fitzgerald (74) and Navin Rana (77) placed fourth and eighth, and freshman Joey Mucci carded an 82 to finish 14th out of the 18 golfers that will move on to play Oct. 15.

“Having so many people here, it kinda almost felt like a team tournament,” Aber said. “I was rooting for all of them and I just know that everyone is rooting for each other. I think it’s kind of nice to know that you have people that are there for you, and when you need to step up in those pressure situations, you can execute.”

The winning culture that surrounds the Sewickley Academy boys golf program isn’t something that was developed overnight. Year after year, the Panthers have success at both the team and the individual level. Each year’s team passes the torch to the next in hopes that they’ll carry on the winning tradition.

“It started a long time ago and each group just brings it along,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “J.F. had a great statement the other day. He was like, ‘Coach, when we lost three starting seniors, I thought we might struggle this year. But now we’re in good shape and even after I graduate, I’m seeing all of these younger guys working hard so I think you’ll be OK next year.’”

For the past few years, Aber has been at the forefront of that success. He has contributed to a PIAA and two WPIAL team titles in the past two years. But it won’t be long before a new face takes the reins and Palmer is excited to see who rises to the occasion.

“The guys work hard and J.F. has been our No. 1 guy for the last couple years, but they all fight for that spot and they aspire for it,” Palmer said. “They try to beat J.F.. They try to be better than J.F., and that’s healthy because they want to get to that level.”

The journey for Sewickley Academy’s seventh straight WPIAL Class AA team title will begin Oct. 8 when the team competes in the Class AA semifinals to earn a spot in the team championship two days later at Cedarbrook Country Club.

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

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