South Fayette junior golfer stares down Oakmont, takes home silver

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Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 11:01 AM


With the district golf and girls tennis postseason winding down, no area teams and only one area golfer is moving on to the PIAA state championships.

South Fayette junior Caroline McConnell finished as the WPIAL runner-up in the 2020 Class AAA district championships at Oakmont Country Club. McConnell shot a 7-over par 82, finishing two strokes behind the champion, Lindsey Powanda, a junior from Mt. Lebanon.

“I thought Caroline did an excellent job,” South Fayette girls golf coach Rocky Violi said. “Oakmont is an incredibly difficult test. If you miss the fairways, you can easily find yourself in the bunkers or hazards.

“Caroline knew it was going to be a challenge. She understood that if she could minimize the big numbers, there was a chance to put together a good round. Her ball striking was great, and I am very proud of her.”

Powanda and McConnell were the only two golfers in the finals to finish single digits over par. Fox Chapel junior Nina Busch finished third with a 12-over 87.

“It is always disappointing to come up that short of winning, but Caroline was pleased with her round, as she should be,” Violi said. “Anything in the low 80s at Oakmont she was going to be happy with.”

McConnell joined four other WPIAL golfers in the girls Class AAA field for the 2020 PIAA state championships at the Heritage Hills Golf Course in York. The state tournament had always been a two-day event but was scheduled to take place over one day this year.

McConnell’s Lions teammate Marissa Malosh also participated in the WPIAL finals and finished in 12th place after shooting a 94.

“Marissa battled hard at Oakmont,” Violi said. “Being only a sophomore, some of Marissa’s best golf is ahead of her. She will be able to take her experience from this season and apply it to next year.”

The WPIAL Class AAA individual golf championships took place three days after the district team finals were held. McConnell, Marosh and South Fayette sophomore teammates Ally Brennan, Maddie Webber and Paige Postufka took home silver.

The Colts shot a 353, good enough for second place in the eight-team championship, 12 strokes behind winners Peters Township.

“It was an incredible feat to finish runner-up to all those talented teams,” Violi said. “I was very impressed with our team’s performance. I knew Caroline and Marissa were going to come in with some low numbers similar to how it has been all year. Throughout our season, the entire South Fayette girls team has worked hard and it was no different on that day. I could not be more proud of them.

With a junior and four sophomores leading the way, Violi is excited about the Lions’ future.

“Having the girls experience team WPIALs was very beneficial,” Violi said. “I am definitely excited for next season. The team came in under the radar, as we had several returning players and three new players join the program. Our section is one of the toughest around. Golf is such a demanding game, and anything can happen. We need to approach next year very similar to this year and take one match at a time.”

No area teams qualified for the WPIAL team golf finals or the girls team tennis championships, but several duos did participate in the WPIAL tennis doubles sectionals.

In the Section 4-AAA tournament, the South Fayette tandem of sophomores Ayushi Jani and Shreya Rathi lost in the preliminary round while Lions senior teammates Mia Belcufine and ZeZe Rose lost in the first round.

In the same tournament, the Chartiers Valley pair of junior Sru Cahven and sophomore MacKenzie Maga lost in the preliminary round while senior Colts teammates Kelli O’Connell and Anna Rush fell in the first round.

In the Section 5-AA tournament, two Carlynton duos lost in the first round. Junior Julia Rinehart and sophomore Annaliese Mertz lost to a pair from Montour while junior Cougars teammates Alysha Cutri and Annessa Pretroti fell to a duo from Keystone Oaks.

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