Shady Side Academy’s Neely Nicholson wins section qualifier, turns attention to WPIALs

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Saturday, September 24, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Three years ago, Neely Nicholson was playing golf as a recreation.

But last week, the Shady Side Academy senior carded a 77 to win the Section 2-2A individual title at Del-Mar Country Club.

“I was pretty nervous at first,” Nicholson said. “I got more loose and it started going well. I’m usually scoring in the 80-85 range.”

Nicholson started playing on the school’s golf team as a sophomore. She was concentrating on field hockey at the time.

“Then covid came along in my freshman year, and I started playing golf with my family and began to take seriously,” Nicholson said.

Also qualifying for the WPIAL golf individual tournament was fellow Bulldogs senior Delaney Mulderig, who finished fourth with an 84. The 18-hole sectional play took place at the Del-Mar Golf Course, located between Ellwood City and Wampum in Lawrence County.

“Neely played great today like she has all season,” Shady Side coach Betsy Thompson last week. “She was consistent with one of her best 18s ever.”

With both girls finishing under the target score of 96, next on the schedule is the WPIAL individual tournament where the top 36 finishers will play in the WPIAL finals slated for Oct. 3 at Valley Brook in Canonsburg.

There were 10 girls from Section 2 who qualified for the overall WPIAL tourney.

The Class 2A field will try to stop Quaker Valley’s Eva Bulger in her quest for four consecutive WPIAL individual titles.

Shady Side, which played up in classification for many years, dropped to Class 2A for this two-year enrollment cycle.

“Delaney also played well,” Thompson said. “Both are three-year captains for us. They have a calm presence and they stay within themselves. They have both been a thrill to coach.”

Both girls were in separate groups in the Section 2 finals. Nicholson was in the lead group and Mulderig in the fourth group.

“We see each other and we’d give a thumbs-up signal, or a thumbs level or a thumbs-down,” Nicholson said. “That way we could communicate with each other since you can’t yell across the golf course.”

The last Shady Side girls golfer to win a WPIAL title was Margaret Pentrack in 2006.

Nicholson said her favorite course while playing with her family is Oakmont Country Club.

Next fall, Nicholson will be playing womens’ ice hockey for Boston University.

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