Westmoreland high school notebook: Derry boys golf eye section title

Saturday, September 21, 2019 | 6:48 PM

The WPIAL team golf playoffs will begin Oct. 7-8, and the Derry boys will occupy another spot in the Class AA bracket.

That was a far-fetched concept just a few years ago, but the Trojans are back in the mix.

The football team isn’t the only program at the school that has put together a turnaround.

Derry’s golfers are on the verge of becoming section champions for the second time in three years after failing to win a section title for 43 years.

A win over Geibel clinches at least a share.

If Greensburg Central Catholic loses to Mt. Pleasant, Derry can win the title outright, the first time that will have happened since 1974.

“We were finally placed in (Class) AA, where we were able to compete at the same level,” Derry coach Tracey Smeltzer said. “I knew after the first day of practice that this was going to be a special group of kids. They support each other. Not one of them feels that their score is the only thing that matters. They realize that they need each other, and it is about the team and not the individual.”

Senior Aidan Bushey and freshman Hunter Jurica have been bright spots for the Trojans, shooting a worse score than their counterparts just once between them.

Smeltzer said an influx of freshmen the last two years has built a foundation in the program.

“We have 14 boys on the squad, with only two seniors leaving,” she said. “When you start winning, you begin to grab the attention of the younger kids. They start thinking that maybe this is the sport for them.”

Class AA golf

Allegheny Country Club will host the WPIAL Class AA boys individual golf championship Thursday, and four players from Westmoreland County will compete. They are Bushey, Ben Ritenour of Greensburg Central Catholic, Tim Pisula of Mt. Pleasant and Marcus Pinchock of Burrell.

Ritenour shot 74 to win the Section 2 title at The Madison Club, and Pinchock was co-medalist at the Section 1 tournament at Buffalo Golf Course.

Class AAA golf

Hannastown Golf Club and Willowbrook Country Club will host Class AAA semifinal tournaments Monday.

Local players at those sites include Jeff Mankins and Ryan Nalveanko of Greensburg Salem; Alex Turowski, Josh Kapcin, Adam Yamrick and Patrick Driscoll of Penn-Trafford; Mitch Sarsfield, John Kebe and Anthony Rendielich of Hempfield; Jared Stein, Mario Battaglia and Colten McCutcheon of Latrobe; Patrick Bush, Jake Caldwell and Tyler Mocello of Belle Vernon; and Chuck Tragesser, Jeff Anderchak and Michael Wareham of Franklin Regional.

Mankins (Section 1), Bush (Section 2) and Tragesser (Section 4) won their qualifiers.

Girls golf

The WPIAL Class AAA and AA girls golf finals will be Oct. 2 at Diamond Run Golf Club.

Local Class AAA qualifiers are: Lauren Barber of Penn-Trafford, Caroline Tragesser of Franklin Regional, Raina Jones of Hempfield, Marie Kruppa of Belle Vernon and Jules Crosby of Norwin.

Area players to make the Class AA championship are Meghan Zambruno, Ella Zambruno and Angelika Dewicki of Greensburg Central Catholic.

Another D-I player

Norwin baseball player Alex Gabauer, a junior shortstop, made a verbal commitment last week to play at Penn. He is just the latest from the program to pledge to a Division I program.

In the 16 years under coach Mike Liebdzinski, Norwin has sent 17 players to the highest level of college baseball. Current Knights alums J.J. Matijevic and Max McDowell are in the minor leagues.

Liebdzinski credits commitment to the program and offseason work for his players being able to play at a high level.

The coach has a 209-108 record with 15 playoff appearances and guided the Knights to a WPIAL title and two district runner-ups.

Advantage, Warriors

Penn-Trafford’s girls tennis team has more than court smarts.

Of the six seniors on the roster, four are ranked in the top six of their class academically. The girls are: Ruby Chen (No. 1), Sofiya Bidochko (2), Haley Aiken (3) and Claire Hartung (6).

“I can’t even believe the odds of this with this small of a team,” coach Megan Hudak said. “We are super proud of them … it’s an incredible achievement.”

Holding serve

There wasn’t much change for local teams in the Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Top 10 polls.

Franklin Regional (AAA) and Greensburg Central Catholic (A) remain No. 5 in their respective classes, Norwin is No. 8 and Hempfield is No. 10 in Class AAAA and Derry is No. 7 in Class AA.

Latrobe senior libero Skylar Shank was named a Class AAAA player of the week. Senior setter Elizabeth Sarneso of Franklin Regional claimed the honors in Class AAA.


Penn-Trafford senior baseball player Zach Kelly committed to Alderson Broaddus.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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