Upper St. Clair gives Flynn outstanding farewell present
He hadn't told his team, but Upper St. Clair boys golf coach Todd Flynn had made up his mind that the 2013 golf season would be his last as the Panthers' coach.
The send-off his team gave him by winning the WPIAL and PIAA team championships and Grant Engel taking top honors in the PIAA Class AAA individual championship certainly made Flynn's final season memorable.
"I have two individual championships and a team champion," said Flynn after his team's memorable three-day run at Heritage Hills Resort in York.
On the first two days of the state tournament, Engel put together rounds of 74 and 73 to win the two-day event with a 5-over-par round of 147, two strokes ahead of Conestoga junior Andrew Wilner.
The individual tournament appeared to be Wilner's to win as he held a one-stroke lead entering the final hole. But Wilner hit his second shot into the pond fronting the green, and he took a triple-bogey 7 while Engel shot par on the same hole to earn the two-stroke victory. The comeback was all the more remarkable as Wilner held a five-stroke lead with 13 holes to play.
"When Andrew hit his second shot into the water, and I put my second shot on the green, it was a huge change of events," Engel said. "He bladed his shot with whatever club he used, and both of our hearts just stopped. He went from maybe winning (the state title) to possibly me winning this."
Engel turned possibility into reality as he drilled a 10-foot par putt to secure the title.
Teammate Thomas Steve earned all-state honors as he finished in a 10th-place tie with Fox Chapel's Patrick Sheener. Both shot 12-over-par totals of 154. For Steve, however, he saved his heroics for the one-day team event that Upper St. Clair won with a total of 302, 18 strokes ahead of runner-up Methacton. Steve led the Panthers with an even-par round of 71, the best score in the team field. That's why Flynn said the Panthers had two individual champions.
"We knew we had to play our game, and if we did that, we had a chance," said Engel. "No one wanted to finish second again because there was no next year for us."
Indeed, all five members of the Panthers' team were seniors.
The state tournament was a tremendous finish to the season for the Panthers. Steve and Engel finished third and fourth, respectively, in the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Championship at Diamond Run Golf Club, and the Panthers won the WPIAL Class AAA team championship at Cedarbrook Golf Club with a total of 381, 30 strokes ahead of runner-up Fox Chapel.
Flynn shared the news with his team that the 2013 season was his last, and he will enjoy his retirement from coaching by doing a lot of traveling with his wife.
"I have some grandkids I'd like to see," he said. And, no doubt, he'll be able to share his memories of solid individual and team efforts by his Panthers with family and friends.
South Fayette senior Long wins WPIAL title
South Fayette's Corey Long had to work a little longer, but the extra effort was worth it as he won the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Golf Championship after defeating Indiana's Matt Holuta on the fourth playoff hole at Diamond Run Golf Club.
Both had fired 3-under-par rounds of 67 to force the sudden-death playoff format.
In the playoff, both had matching par scores before both golfers had some difficulty on the fourth hole that was punctuated by a dog repeatedly barking from a home adjoining the golf course.
"I definitely heard that dog and I was trying to figure out where it was," Long said. "When you are in that position, you try not to think about a dog barking. But when I was lining up my first putt, I kept looking to see where the dog was coming from."
Holuta opened the door for Long when he triple bogeyed the par 4, 453-yard fourth hole. Long also had some trouble as he had a bogey 5, but it was enough for him to take home the title.
Long finished in a four-way tie for sixth place at the Western Regional tournament at Tom's Run. He shot a 4-over-par round of 76 as did Holuta, Allderdice's Sasha Lobel and Mars' Josh Bartley.
That earned him a trip to the state championship at Heritage Hills Resort in York where he finished in 26th place with a 20-over-par total of 162 for the two-day event. He shot an 80 in the opening round and an 82 on the second day.
Bishop Canevin's Smallhoover finishes well to end sophomore season
Bishop Canevin Sam Smallhoover has two seasons remaining in his high school career. He laid a pretty solid foundation for the next two years by placing 10th at the WPIAL Class AA Individual Championships last September at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.
Smallhoover shot a round of 80 and he recorded identical scores of 40 for each nine holes. The total placed him five strokes behind the totals of 75 posted by Leechburg's Matt Barto and Charleroi's Gunnar Riley. Barto defeated Riley in a one-hole playoff. Both have graduated.
Smallhoover was one of the three sophomores to qualify for the PIAA Western Regional Tournament at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville. The others were Cody Dobbin of Burgettstown, who finished third at the WPIAL tournament, and Charleroi Area's Mike Kondratik, who placed 16th.