Throughout his high school career, Quaker Valley High's Chris Tanabe has seemingly played in the shadow of neighborhood rival Jason Li of Sewickley Academy.
That trend seemed to continue into the senior seasons of both golfers. But in the season's most crucial match -- the 2016 PIAA Class AA championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort -- it was Tanabe who not only got the better of Li, but he also bested the entire field with a two-day total of 146, one stroke ahead of Riverside freshman and WPIAL Class AA champion Skyler Fox, and four strokes ahead of Li, who placed fourth. WPIAL golfers, in fact, swept the first four positions at the state final as Laurel senior and PIAA West Regional champion Evan Long finished third with a 149.
Tanabe had to battle back to win the title after shooting an opening round score of 76, trailing Li by four strokes and Long by two. He was tied with Fox after the first round.
Both Tanabe and Fox played solid golf on the second day, while Long and Li both faded. Tanabe shot even splits of 35 for each of the nine holes for a 1-under-par round. With three years of high school remaining, Fox displayed plenty of skill with an even-par round of 71 for his second-place finish.
At the Western Regional tournament at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville, Long defeated Tanabe in a one-hole playoff as each shot 1-over-par rounds of 73. Fox and Li finished in a four-way tie for fifth place with 4-over-par rounds of 76.
That tournament followed a WPIAL championship where Fox served notice about his solid ability with a 2-over-par round of 72 to win the title. Li was second with a 73, and Tanabe placed fourth with a 74. South Park's Tyler Brinker likely will be a solid contender in 2017 as he placed third at the WPIAL championship and 19th at the PIAA Western Regional.
North Catholic sophomore earns all-state honors: When a golf program is in its formative years, it really helps to have a foundation on which to build. When Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High started its program, Tre Bartony epitomized the first brick to that foundation a year ago with a solid freshman season.
In 2016, Bartony led with a sold display of golf that landed him in the postseason.
After placing 10th at the WPIAL 2A championship with a 7-over-par round of 77 at Allegheny Country Club, Bartony finished in a 16th-place tie at the PIAA Western Regional at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville with an 8-over-par round of 80. It might not have been his best round, but it was good enough to qualify him for the PIAA 2A championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort.
That's where Bartony earned all-state honors with sole possession of seventh place with a 15-over-par total of 157 for the two-day event. That was 11 strokes behind the winning total of 146 posted by Quaker Valley senior Chris Tanabe.
Bartony opened with a 79, and then closed with a 78.
What is encouraging for him is that just three underclassmen posted better scores than Bartony at the state championship. The foundation is strong, and it appears that it will get even stronger in future seasons.
Sewickley wins WPIAL team title, finishes second at PIAA final: A team that has become a fixture at the PIAA 2A team championship had to earn its way there after a competitive WPIAL 2A team final at Cedarbrook.
Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer thought his team was having a rough day, and McGuffey was giving his team all it could handle.
"We were so far down after 12 holes, and McGuffey played great golf," said Palmer, who also is the school's boys basketball coach, softball coach and athletic director. "We thought that if we shot under 400, we'd be in great shape. We had to shoot a school-record 387, so our guys played great."
Before senior Ryan Gex completed his round, the Panthers held a one-stroke lead over the Highlanders, 394-395. But when Gex carded a 76, that knocked out a score of 83 registered by another Panther. His score lowered the Panther team total to 387 to give the Panthers the eight-stroke victory.
The Panthers' bid for a state title, though, was short-circuited by a solid effort from Lancaster Catholic. The District 3 champions had a team score of 309, and Sewickley was second with 319.
Talented senior Jason Li led all golfers at the team championship with a 3-over-par total of 74. Fellow seniors Declan Hickton and Gex both shot 79s, and freshman J.F. Aber rounded out the scoring with an 87.