O-R Athlete of the Week: Synclaire Kuhn, Peters Twp.
Name: Synclaire Kuhn
School: Peters Township
Kuhn’s week: Kuhn tied for medalist honors at the WPIAL Class AAA Girls Team Golf Championships held last Thursday at Cedarbrook Golf Club. She shot 7-over par 78 (39-39) on the Red Course. Kuhn’s score was matched by Bridget Merten of Mars and Megan Leto of North Allegheny.
“I wanted to be in the 70s,” Kuhn said. “Most teams that win the championship have one or two golfers score in the 70s. I was pretty good with my driver and did a good job of getting up and down.”
Kuhn said her best hole was the par-5 No. 2, which she birdied by making a 15-foot birdie putt.
Refusing to crack: Kuhn’s performance helped Peters Township to a third-place finish. The Indians were only nine strokes behind champion Penn Trafford and five back of runner-up North Allegheny.
During the regular season, Peters Township was 4-0 in dual matches against Penn Trafford and North Allegheny, defeating each opponent twice. Kuhn, however, said PT’s third-place finish at the WPIAL Championships was a bit of a pleasant surprise. The Indians are less experienced than Penn Trafford and NA. Peters Township had three freshmen, a junior and Kuhn in the lineup. There are no seniors on the Indians’ roster.
“Our team is so young that everyone expected us to crack under the pressure,” Kuhn said. “At the team championships, you play 18 holes, which is nine more than we usually play, and there are a lot more spectators.”
Peters Township handled the pressure well, especially Kuhn and freshman Mia Kness, who shot 82. Kuhn and Kness gave PT a seven-shot lead after results from the Nos. 1 and 2 players were posted.
Late-season improvement: Kuhn admits she struggled at the end of the season. After finishing 3rd in the Section 2-AAA tournament, behind WPIAL champion Lauren Waller of Canon-McMillan and Kness, Kuhn placed a disappointing 14th in the WPIAL Championships at Hillcrest Country Club in Lower Burell and did not qualify for yesterday’s PIAA Regional.
“The last two events of the regular high school season weren’t my best, so I took a couple of days off to clear my head,” Kuhn said. “When playing golf, you can get stressed. Three or four days before the (team) championships I went back at it. The time off helped.”
Kuhn said she has been working on improving her short game and it paid off at Cedarbrook. She’s enlisted the help of well-known instructor Lynn Blake.
“I have learned that golf is a mental game,” Kuhn said. “Last year, I would let things that would happen during a round get me stressed out. … I’ve been working on improving my short game. Hitting the ball better comes with time. Everybody would like to hit the ball a long way, but if you have a solid short game, then you will score well.”
The few, the proud: PT’s performance at the team event was remarkable when you consider the Indians have only five players on their entire roster. PT placed third at the WPIAL Championships last year, when they had seven golfers on the team. Only two of the seven – Kuhn and junior Allison Magyer, who missed part of the 2012 season with an injury – returned this year.
By comparison, the PT boys team, which is coached by Synclaire’s father, Dave Kuhn, had about 40 golfers for tryouts.
Getting golfers out for the girls team has been a struggle for coach Brian Farrell, but he knows the future is bright for the program with all five players returning next season.
“We can’t be displased with our performance,” Farrell said. “Every girl we have is coming back. It’s tough at Peters Township because the girls soccer team has won three state championships in a row, the girls tennis team has won three state titles in four years and field hockey has won the WPIAL. Any girl would want to be part of those teams. It makes it tough for us, but we have a good team coming back, and there are some eighth graders who we think could help.”
Compiled by Chris Dugan