WPIAL girls golf preview: GCC dynasty sets sights on 6th straight title

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020 | 4:53 PM


Since WPIAL girls golf went to two classifications in 2012, eight team champions have been crowned.

But one team has hoarded the trophies handed out each October at Cedarbrook Golf Course.

Greensburg Central Catholic has won the last five titles and has its sights on a six-peat as a new season dawns Thursday around the district. The Centurions have become the standard-bearer for success in 2A.

“There is definitely some pressure, but we just have to really focus on each match as they come,” Centurions junior Ella Zambruno said. “We are all excited for this year’s season. Everyone has been putting in the work and it showed at our first practice.”

With a deeper and more experienced lineup, GCC is once again the frontrunner in Class AA and will likely push for a third straight PIAA championship — assuming the state postseason proceeds amid the covid-19 pandemic.

The start of the season was pushed back a week as the WPIAL awaited the go-ahead from the PIAA to begin fall sports.

“Keeping the bar high is no issue,” GCC coach Gerry Police said. “The girls understand that they have a chance to do something very special. They also understand that every team we play will be trying their best to beat us, so they will take no one lightly.”

Zambruno once again will join her twin sister, Meghan, at the top of the team rotation. The Zambruno name is etched into program history as recent GCC alums Olivia and Abby Zambruno also left their mark on Centurions’ titles.

At last year’s WPIAL team finals, Ella and Meghan Zambruno carded rounds of 77 and 78 as GCC won by 51 shots over nearest challenger Central Valley.

But senior Angelika Dewicki was a key player during last year’s run, giving GCC a big three for opponents to deal with.

Dewicki won the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament last season.

Junior Liv Kana, senior Abby Lint and freshman Izabela Aigner also should be key contributors.

“The team all continues to work on our game during the offseason, not just during high school golf season,” Ella Zambruno said. “We try to just focus on each match and not get too far ahead of ourselves. Many of us play tournament golf, which helps us perform under pressure and keeps us competitive.”

Meghan Zambruno, the medalist at the PIAA tournament last season (77), said the state championship experience could carry the team a long way again.

GCC still has a ways to go to chase WPIAL record-holder Upper St. Clair for consecutive titles. The Panthers won 12 straight from 1994-2005.

But another title this season would get them halfway there.

“Keeping the program functioning at a high level has everything to do with having a group of talented players who work hard on improving their games,” Police said. “Many of the girls compete in amateur events during the summer and take lessons to hone their games.”

Upper St. Clair dethroned four-time defending champion North Allegheny to win the WPIAL Class AAA title last season. The Panthers also tied for second in the state.

Busch, Bulger are back

There will be a new individual champion in WPIAL Class AAA with the graduation of Isabella Walter of North Allegheny.

Girls who make the Class AAA individual finals are in for a treat: The WPIAL tournament will be played at historic Oakmont Country Club.

The top returning finisher in that class is Fox Chapel junior Nina Busch, who was the runner-up after losing to Walter in a playoff at Diamond Run, while senior Ella McRoberts of Peters Township returns after taking third. Six of the top 10 finishers in triple-A were underclassmen.

Busch’s home course is Oakmont.

In Class AA, defending champion Eva Bulger of Quaker Valley returns after winning as a freshman, while Ella and Meghan Zambruno finished 2-3 and are primed to harness the team momentum and turn it onto individual accolades.

Ligonier Valley is a WPIAL newcomer and will play in the same section as GCC.

The girls’ Class AA finals will be played alongside the boys championship at Allegheny Country Club.

Players to watch: WPIAL girls golf

Class AAA

Nina Busch, Jr., Fox Chapel

Erin Drahnak, Jr., Fox Chapel

Rhianna Firmstone, Sr., Moon

Tara Loughran, Sr., Oakland Catholic

Marissa Malosh, So., South Fayette

Quinn Martineau, Sr., Indiana

Caroline McConnell, Jr., South Fayette

Ella McRoberts, Sr., Peters Township

Lindsey Powanda, Jr. Mt. Lebanon

Adena Rugola, Jr., Uniontown

Paige Scott, Jr., Butler

Tori Slagle, Jr., Upper St. Clair

Class AA

Eva Bulger, So., Quaker Valley

Angelika Dewicki, Sr., Greensburg Central Catholic

Caroline Konieczny, Sr., Geibel

Claire Konieczny, So., Geibel

Remmey Lohr, Sr., Carmichaels

Lindsay Sethman, Sr., Brownsville

Ella Zambruno, Jr., Greensburg Central Catholic

Meghan Zambruno, Jr., Greensburg Central Catholic

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

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