Wrigley, North Allegheny girls golf team defend WPIAL titles

Friday, October 13, 2017 | 11:00 PM

There's moments where North Allegheny girls golf coach Mike Hambrick can only laugh at Caroline Wrigley's demeanor.

A sullen look may spell disaster on the scorecard of many golfers. With Wrigley, there's a chance a look of despair could mean something else.

Hambrick likes to try to lighten the mood for Wrigley, a junior who is committed to Furman (S.C.).

“I try to get her to back off a little bit,” Hambrick said. “Sometimes, she gets a little too intense. She gets a little too hard on herself. I'll ask her what her (nine-hole) score is, she'll say 35.”

Even Wrigley had a hard time nitpicking her performance Oct. 4 at the WPIAL Class AAA individual championships. Wrigley defend her title in grand fashion. She shot a 5-under par 67, which was the best score at Diamond Run Golf Course in 20 years.

With five birdies and an eagle, and only one bogey, it was a career-best day for Wrigley.

“It is, yeah,” Wrigley told the TribLive High School Sports Network. “Before this, 68 was my best.”

Hambrick had to follow along with Wrigley on the internet. Stuck at work, Hambrick had to rely on secondhand accounts of Wrigley's round.

The scores Hambrick saw on the computer weren't any different from what he expects from Wrigley in reality.

“She works really hard,” said Hambrick, whose team also defended its WPIAL Class AAA team title on Oct. 12. “She's in great physical condition for playing. She works out. She takes it seriously. There's no down time. She's always at it.”

Wrigley was one of three North Allegheny golfers — along with Christina Lewis and Esha Vaiyda — to qualify for regionals.

Wrigley said she only had two practices at Diamond Run before playing the course. Once two weeks before, and the second time was the Sunday before.

“My driver was a big part of why I shot a 67,” Wrigley said to Triblive HSSN. “I didn't miss a fairway all day, and that's a really important part at Diamond Run.

“My putting was on all day, and I didn't miss many putts.”

Taking that performance into regionals will be important for Wrigley. She missed the cut for the PIAA championships by four strokes last season after placing eighth at regionals.

Helping her in the next step is the absence of the expectations she faced at WPIALs.

“I felt more nervous than usual,” Wrigley said. “I knew I was the defending champ and I wanted to back that up. I did feel pressure playing (at WPIALs) because I wanted to win so bad.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.


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