After six rounds of competition, Delone Catholic and York Catholic were unable to resolve a tussle for the YAIAA-3 golf championship. Each team claimed three of the six regular-season events, resulting in matching 27-3 records and a co-championship.
Just how close was the spirited battle between the Squires and Irish? On Sept. 13 at Range End, York Catholic claimed a 330-331 victory. Four days before that, Delone grabbed a 335-338 triumph. The Squires were winners by six shots in an August match at South Hills, only to see the Irish come back six days later and claim a 170-172 decision at Honey Run in a match reduced to nine holes because of rain.
In a nutshell, these two teams just can’t separate themselves.
“It was too close for comfort,” joked Delone head coach Chuck Minchik. “That last tournament at Gettysburg National (on Monday) they just caught fire. They shot a 310, and nobody has shot that in the years I’ve been coaching. We shot a 331, which was of our lowest scores of the year, and they beat us by 20.”
Just in case these rivals didn’t get their fill of one another, they’ll tee it up again next Tuesday in the YAIAA team championships at Briarwood East. There, it basically is a head-to-head challenge with the winning squad punching its ticket to the District 3 team dance, according to Minchik.
“It really just depends upon who’s hot on Tuesday,” said Minchik. “Can they remain that hot next Tuesday?”
No matter how Tuesday plays out, there will be a wave of Delone players back at it next Thursday at Briarwood for the YAIAA individual tournament. The field will include seven of Minchik’s talented crew, including six Squires in the 18-player boys’ field. Tim Burke, Bryson Kopp, Camdyn Keller, Evan Glass, Gino Giraffa and Trevor Sullivan have made the grade. Burke (39.18 9-hole average) and Kopp (41.09) rank second and fourth in the division, respectively.
On the girls’ side, sophomore Kat Keller looks to make a return trip to the district tournament. She’ll book a spot should she shoot 100 or better on Thursday.
That Delone was able to grab a share of a division title and position itself for a bountiful postseason comes as no surprise, despite graduating a pair of stalwarts in Nick Carpenter, who spent four years at No. 1, and steady Trenton Kopp. The Squires have stockpiled a surplus of talented young players, so much so that nine of the 17 golfers on their roster have scored in varsity matches this season.
“I have 10 kids that could probably play at any other school aside from York Catholic,” said Minchik. “Tim and Bryson have improved dramatically, they’re both top-notch golfers shooting in the middle-to-high 70s or low 80s. We don’t have a kid that’s going to shoot 71 or 72 but all of our guys can break 90 so we can consistently put up a good score. We haven’t done worse than a 335.”
Minchik commended Burke and Kopp for stepping into the leadership roles vacated by the graduated twosome.
“Tim works his butt off, he always on the range and working on his game and it shows,” he said. “He’s a bulldog, nothing fazes him. He reminds me of a larger version of Nick. And Bryson has some really good talent. He’s matured beyond my wildest dreams. They’re both captains and I involve my captains in a lot of the decisions for the team. I like them to take ownership.”
Glass (43.64), a returning D3 qualifier, and Camdyn Keller (43.56) have solidified a strong front unit for Delone.
“Evan and Camdyn are both sophomores and they’re both growing into their games,” said Minchik. “They maybe lack a little confidence but it’s coming. They’re going to be outstanding.”
Minchik credited assistant coach Matt Bird with player development as the two manage a loaded roster of 17 players.
“Matt Bird has been invaluable,” said the head coach. “He took over the kids that were still learning and I would handle the varsity, and then we’d collaborate. Give Matt a lot of credit.”
Minchik also credited his players for taking the necessary steps to ensure a season. He expressed great concern in 2020 as teams were hopeful to play amid COVID-19 protocols and restrictions.
“Last fall I truly didn’t think we were going to finish the season,” he said. “We wanted to be careful. We haven’t used a team van to transport in two years. I didn’t want to put nine kids in a van wearing masks and coughing all over anybody. The parents have transported the kids and it’s worked out well.”
With a shot making the district team tournament, as well as sending multiple players on to the individual district tourney ahead, Minchik is relishing the opportunities awaiting his young squad.
“We’re going to do our best and be proud of them no matter what,” he said. “I love these kids, they’re just so respectful. I’m very happy with what’s happened so far, it’s all gravy from here.”