There is a decidedly pronounced youth movement among WPIAL Class AAA female golfers who have qualified for the PIAA Western Regional that will take place Wednesday at Tom's Run Golf Course in Blairsville.
Of the seven players who are advancing to the state qualifier, six of them are underclassmen, four of them sophomores. One is a junior and one is a senior. Even the alternate is a sophomore.
North Allegheny sophomore Megan Leto is one of those qualifiers. She placed third with an 8-over-par round of 81 at the WPIAL Class AAA girls individual championship Sept. 30 at Hill Crest Country Club.
Two other North Xtra area players -- sophomores Melissa Balish of Hampton and Bridget Merten of Mars -- also qualified with rounds of 81 and 82, respectively.
Leto had no complaints with her game off the tee.
"I was absolutely killing my drive," Leto said. "I had one bad drive, but my putting wasn't great. I missed a couple [of putts] that would have bumped me up a little bit. That happens."
Leto is thankful for the success she is enjoying as a sophomore.
"I'm nervous, but I went last year [to the regional] and I got seventh," she said. "They only took six [to the state championship]. I went with [since-graduated] Lizzie Hammel, and she was like a big sister to me. She helped me through it.
"I think if I play [a practice round] with my coach, I'll get used to it and hope I do better than last year."
While Leto had some complaints about her putting game, Shady Side Academy freshman Casey Morrow saw her game affected negatively when her putter broke midway through her round.
She'd played very well on the front nine, too, as she was tied with eventual champion Lauren Waller of Canon-McMillan, runner-up Mia Kness of Peters Township and Merten with nine-hole scores of 39, 3-over par.
Then, Morrow suffered some misfortune as her putter broke. She began her back nine using the broken putter because she was unable to get a ruling until later in the round whether she could replace the club legally.
Her back nine yielded successive bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes and a double-bogey on the 12th. She had another bogey on the 14th and a second double-bogey on the 15th en route to a nine-hole score of 45 and a round of 84 that placed her in a playoff with Gateway's Johnna Beehner that Beehner won.
Morrow is now designated as an alternate and would compete in the Western Regional if one of the qualifiers is unable to play.hsother
First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM