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Girls Golf: 2016 East Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

Want to see the best out of a competitor? Throw a little disappointment in his or her direction and see how that athlete responds.

That's what happened with Greensburg Central Catholic senior and Penn State recruit Olivia Zambruno en route to what should have been a third successive WPIAL 2A championship.

But rather than be in the familiar role of accepting the first-place award, Zambruno found herself trailing Central Valley sophomore Kiaria Porter by two strokes and tied for second place with Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic freshman Maddie Smithco. Each shot rounds of 80.

Zambruno learned that a round of golf can change at a moment's notice. She also learned that attention has to be paid to the last detail.

"I think it was a bunch of up-and-down all day, and it's golf, I know," she said. "But I made a lot of course-management mistakes."

And that last detail? "I forgot to change the battery on my range-finder, and it died," she said. "I just made a lot of mistakes."

Those issues went away in the tournament's next two rounds as she won both the PIAA Western Regional and a third-successive PIAA 2A individual championship.

At the regional tournament at Blairsville's Tom's Run Golf Course, shot a 3-over-par total of 75 to edge Sewickley Academy sophomore Tatum McKelvey by one stroke. Talented Central Valley senior Alex Bozich was third with a 79. Those three golfers along with eight other qualifiers -- five of them from the WPIAL -- all advanced to the PIAA 2A final.

Zambruno got the three-peat she had hoped she'd achieve at the WPIAL level at the PIAA tournament.

That's where she held off a spirited effort from Smithco to earn a two-stroke victory over the North Catholic ninth-grader. Zambruno shot a 157, and Smithco had a 159.

Zambruno appeared to have a solid grip on the state title following an opening round of 75 on the par-72 course. But a second-day total of 82 brought her back to the field, and made things interesting. But that first-day effort gave her just enough of a cushion to secure her third PIAA title in a row. Quite a sendoff for the Penn State recruit.

Centurions win second WPIAL title in a row: Could it be said there's a girls golf dynasty brewing at Greensburg Central Catholic High School. Well, yes and no.

The Centurions did win the WPIAL 2A team title with a team score of 347 over perennial team power Central Valley.

But the Centurions found that Central Valley had plenty of staying power as both teams were invited into what amounted to a three-team 2A final along with District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep.

Individual PIAA 2A champion Olivia Zambruno led the Centurions with an eight-over-par round of 80 at the PIAA final. Younger sister Abby, a sophomore, who also placed ninth in the PIAA 2A individual final, was next with an 88. Two juniors, Olivia Stawovy and Kaylene Chavez, shot 99 and 102, respectively, to give the Centurions a team score of 369.

That was close to a state-winning effort, but not quite enough. Alex Bozich shot a solid round of 78 to lead her team to a team score of 368. Sophomore Kiaria Porter was next with an 81, and two juniors -- Jackie Smith and Brianna Fleming -- sealed the victory with scores of 103 and 106, respectively Mercyhurst Prep was a 391.

Penn-Trafford's Conner ends high school career with eighth-place finish at PIAA final: Amanda Conner finished her high school career with a solid effort.

After finishing sixth at the WPIAL 3A individual championship with an 11-over-par round of 83, Conner turned in a solid finish with a four-over-par round of 76 at the PIAA Western Regional that put her in a fifth-place tie with Uniontown sophomore Danae Rugola.

Conner appeared headed for a round of 80 or above as she shot a 40 on the front nine at the regional tournament at Blairsville's Tom's Run Golf Course.

But her even-par split of 36 on the back nine where she parred every hole gave her the 76 that moved her to the PIAA 3A individual championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort.

At that event, she shot matching rounds of 80 for a 16-over-par total of 160 for the two-day event that gave her sole possession of eighth place in the 18-player championship. It was a solid finish to a fine career.