East Xtra: Penn-Trafford girls in pursuit of state title

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Ed Herbst was keeping a close eye on the large sheet of paper that illustrated the competitors' scores at last week's WPIAL Class AAA Girls Team Golf Championships at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver.

The Penn-Trafford High School golf coach's top two competitors -- seniors Royse Bachtel and Casey Doran -- registered scores of 85 and 84. But his demeanor considerably brightened when freshman Amanda Conner's round of 79 -- one stroke away from medalist honors -- was posted.

"She's a great addition," said Herbst, whose team earned its second consecutive WPIAL Class AAA team championship. "I saw her [first play golf] when she was in sixth grade, and I knew she was going to be a good player. She has worked hard to get where she's at. She played No. 3, but we do have three No. 1 players. So, it was nice to see her have a great round today."

Conner's score effectively neutralized the 78 posted by North Allegheny sophomore Megan Leto, who shared medalist honors with Mars Area's Bridget Merten and Peters Township's Synclaire Kuhn.

The Warriors were able to secure a four-stroke victory -- 344 to 348 -- against North Allegheny as the Warriors shot just a little better at the other three scoring positions. The victory earned Penn-Trafford a berth in the PIAA team tournament that takes place next Wednesday at Heritage Hills Resort in York.

Conner said she received some helpful advice from her older teammates before the round began.

"They told me not to be nervous and that if I have a bad shot, I can continue to do [well]," she said. "The 79 was my best round this year."

Her teammates' reactions had her beaming.

"They were relieved [with my score]," she said. "They were happy that I did good today, and I was happy they did good, too."

Herbst said his older players have made his job easier.

"Yeah, Royse and Casey have mentored [Conner] all year long and have talked to her about the need to focus and never give up," he said. "If you hit a bad shot, forget about it. I couldn't have two better leaders in Royse and Casey along with [senior] Rachel Huber."

Noting the 82-stroke victory Central Valley recorded to win the Class AA girls team championship, Herbst had hoped for a similar margin.

"I'd rather win by 82," he said. "But it's pretty exciting when you are waiting for the last scores to be posted. So, I'll take that anytime as long as we win."

Herbst knows what it's like to be in team championships decided by close margins.

A year ago, the Warriors won the title by 18 strokes. But things were different when they were competing in a lower classification.

"We lost by four strokes and seven strokes [in 2011 and 2010, respectively]," he noted. "That was against Central Valley when we were in Division II."

The team's focus will be on the team championship because none of the Warriors individually qualified for the PIAA Western Regional, which was played Wednesday at Tom's Run. Herbst said it will be time well spent.

"[Heritage Hills] is a tough course, and [Bachtel and Doran] have played it," he said. "The other ones [haven't]. I don't know if we'll have a practice round there. We'll leave after school on Tuesday and play [the tournament on] Wednesday morning."

Herbst said his team will get plenty of work in before heading to York.

"We're going to work on hitting balls and chipping and putting and things like that," he said. "Going there is like icing on the cake. This was our goal -- section championship and then WPIAL championship.

"Those are always our goals, and from there we'll take what's given to us. Last year, we came in second in the state, so we'll see what happens."


First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM


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