USC, Engel win state golf titles
Upper St. Clair traveled to the Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York last week with one objective in mind...a PIAA championship. The Panthers did one better. They took home two titles.
USC captured the team trophy. Plus, the Panthers walked away with the top individual honor.
“This is a miracle group of kids,” said head coach Todd Flynn. “What they did was most amazing.”
While the Panthers combined for a 302 score to claim the Class AAA team trophy, an impressive 18 strokes ahead of second-place Methacton, Grant Engel was crowned the state’s indiviudal champion.
“This was a four-step process,” said head coach Todd Flynn. “No. 1, we wanted to win the section. No. 2, the WPIAL title Three, the regional and No. 4 was the PIAA championship. Step three-and-a-half, you could say, was Grant winning the state title.”
Engel became the third PIAA boys’ golf champion from Upper St. Clair. Bobbie MacWhinnie won the title in 2000 and Rick Smith won in 1974.
Engel’s road to individual glory was a little tougher than the team competition. During the two-day competition, Engel battled Andrew Wilner from Conestoga, drive for drive, putt to putt, until the match was decided on the final hole. He shot a 74-73—147 while Wilner carded a 73-76—149.
Though he trailed by one stroke after the first day of play, Engel sharpened his short game and excelled once on the greens.
“The greens were crazy and the pin placements were difficult,” explained Flnn, “but Grant’s putting was amazing.
“He saved a lot of pars. He made great putts.”
According to Flynn, when a golfer is making mid-range to long putts for pars that wears down an opponent and Engel clearly frazzled Wilner.
“Grant just kept grinding and grinding,” said Flynn.
On the final hole, Engel broke free for the victory. It was not pretty. Engel knew he was behind. Plus, he suffered a bad break when one of his shots hit the cart path and bounced into the pine trees instead of the fairway. However, Engel made “an amazing” shot to hit the green on his next stroke. Meanwhile, Wilner deposited a shot into the water hazard.
“You hate to see that happen,” Flynn said of Wilner’s misfortune. “It was sad to see the other guy hit into the water but at the same time I was excited for Grant.”
Expressionless, Engel made a two-putt to par the hole. Meanwhile, Wilner carded a triple-bogey, affording Engel the victory.
“Grant is a pleasant person. When he plays golf, he has the same expression. He’s steady and sure.
“And,” Flynn added, “this couldn’t have happened to a more wonderful young man.”
Engel is not USC’s only fine golfer. That’s why the Panthers won the team title. In the finals, USC had four golfers, including Engel, card scores in the 70s.
Senior Thomas Steve, who finished 10th in the individual tournament, fired an even-par 71 to earn medalist honors. Engel shot 75 while Corey Wilding finished with a 77 and Patrick McDonnell added a 79.
The team title did not come as a complete surprise to Flynn.
“I knew if they played up to their ability, they definitely had the chance to do this,” he said. “These kids absolutely deserved this. They had the will to win, the dedication and determination.”
In PIAA girls’ action, Joey Walz from Seton-La Salle garnered runner-up honors in Class AA. Macky Fouse of Central Valley won the AA title with a 75-77—152.
Although Lauren Waller led after the first day of competition, carding a 73, the Canon-McMillan junior finished tied for third place in the Class AAA division. She tied defending champion Erica Herr of Council Rock North with a two-day total of 151 for 7-over par.
Isabella DiLisio of Mount St. Joseph won the AAA title with a 4-over 148 (75-73). Jackie Rogowicz of Pennsbury followed two strokes behind with a 150 for second place.