Burgettstown golf searching for consistency
Owen Miller thought about the question for a second before deciding to keep his response simple and direct.
“Yes,” Miller answered when asked whether there’s cause for concern when it comes to the Burgettstown golf team, the defending WPIAL Class AA champion.
“I don’t know if the guys aren’t focusing or what,” Miller said. “I don’t know if we’ll be as good as we were last year. We have the talent. It just hasn’t been showing lately.”
In tournaments, anyway.
The Blue Devils are 2-0 in Section 4-AA, with a 190-240 victory over Bishop Canevin and a 181-212 defeat of McGuffey, each last week.
But in two tournaments Aug. 15 and 16, Burgettstown finished second at the Century Conference Golf Tournament at Cedarbrook Golf Course and fifth at the Tri-County Athlete Directors Association Golf Championship at Village Green.
Miller won the Century Conference event with a 78, but Burgettstown’s bottom three scores, the lowest being excluded, were 86, 89 and 91 – numbers that aren’t exactly prevalent on many WPIAL championship team’s cards.
Sophomore Cody Dobbin shot 76 in the Tri-CADA event to finish 12th, the Blue Devils’ only entrant on the individual leaderboard.
“In matches they’ve played OK,” Burgettstown coach Jon Vallina said. “The big tournaments, on any one day, we have had three of the kids playing well; the other ones haven’t gotten it together yet.”
“We’re working, and I guess our goal is to peak at the right time – for the WPIAL tournament in October.”
Which is what Burgettstown did last season.
The Blue Devils won their fifth WPIAL Team Tournament title with a four-stroke victory over Sewickley Academy and advanced to the PIAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
But two key players were lost from that team, as Drake Hoberek, the sixth-place finisher in the WPIAL in 2012, and Luc Bongiorni, who finished 16th, graduated.
Miller has returned alongside Dobbin and junior Hunter Lecker, though the bottom three of Burgettstown’s starting lineup – freshman Austin Lis, junior Ryan Latkovic and senior Michael Couch – are stepping into new, larger roles.
“Yes, we want to play better,” Vallina said. “That’s what I’ve been talking to them about. But there’s no real urgency yet. We’re going to keep working on it.”
As the team’s leader, Miller is well aware of what it will take to win a sixth WPIAL team title. He also knows what won’t cut it, which is why Miller hopes Burgettstown can start throwing up some quality scores – soon.
“With the way we’ve been playing, we don’t have a chance at the WPIAL title,” Miller said. “If we want that title, we really have to work at it.
Miller said several players have gone directly from the final hole to the practice range, an encouraging sign for a team looking to find its groove.
“Each of them has had good rounds, then they’ll follow it up with a not-so-good round,” Vallina said. “We just need them to get a little more consistent.”