Pittsburgh Junior Challenge
Bogey-man and Snowman Make an Appearance
In a weather-shortened event as a result of the three inches of snow overnight on Friday into Saturday, the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour hosted another great tournament at the Pittsburgh Junior Challenge. The Birdsfoot Golf Club hosted the 64-person field for a chilly event this weekend. After a cancelled round and delayed second round, the competitors came out guns a blazing during the shotgun start.
The beautiful course posed many challenges that the kids were not fazed by. Players were not scared of the Bogey-Man, seen to the left, either! The scenery was perfect with the rolling hills and great layout. The grounds crew and staff were extremely professional and were there the entire step of the way helping us out. Without them, we could not have run such a successful tournament. We had quite a few things up for grabs this weekend, as well. Winners in each division received an invitation to the 2016 National Championship on Dec. 3-4. Top three in each division also received an invitation to the 2016 Druh Belts Mid Season Invitational on June 11-13. Top 10 finishers received points towards year-end honors, which include state teams, all HJGT teams, and the Hurricane Cup. Additionally, the American Junior Golf Association awarded four stars to the Girls 14-18 champion, while the top three each received one star.
Boys 16-18 Division
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After taking Saturday off due to the cancellation because of snow, Evan Long came out firing. His even-par 72 was enough to take the championship trophy back home to New Castle, Pa. A birdie on the second hole helped him shoot one-under-par on the front nine. Two more birdies on the inward nine would have given him the easy win, but three late bogeys kept things interesting. JT Kuchnicki also came out firing. Starting on the par-5 No. 2, The Pittsburgh, Pa., native holed out for eagle from 120 yards out! He also birdied No. 4 while placing his tee shot within five feet from the pin on the par-3 105-yard No. 9. His front nine score of 35 was tied for the lead with Long and Hunter Bruce. However, two bogeys on the back nine gave him a score of 73. Rounding out the top three was the McMurray, Pa., native, Hunter Bruce. A rough back nine of four bogeys and a birdie kept him in third place out of 28 in the division with an overall score of 74. It was a very impressive field with the top three separated by three strokes!
Boys 14-15 Division
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Making his way to the Steel City, Cole Christman traveled from the Birthplace of Aviation in Canfield, Oh., to take home the crown. His overall score of 75 was three strokes better than the second place finishers. The highlight of his round were birdies coming on No. 5 and No. 7. These birdies helped him shoot a 37 on the front nine. The fifth hole was a long, uphill par-5, while the seventh was a par-4 dogleg left. His near perfect back 9 was just one stroke off from his front nine. The battle was so tight for second that we ended with a tie. Alex Kiepert from Ebensburg, Pa., used his lone birdie on the 15th hole, which was a straight uphill par-4 to get him into second place out of 11. Glenshaw, Pa., native Grant Thiele used a great tee shot on the 105-yard par 3 to get a birdie en route to third place.
Boys 11-13 Division
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This division was the smallest in the field for the boys with just three competitors. Making the 45-minute drive to Birdsfoot Golf Club was Chuckie Tragesser of Murrysville, Pa. Tragesser shot an 86 to win the Pittsburgh Jr. Challenge by 11 strokes. His round of 14-over-par was highlighted by four pars and no holes worse than bogey; consistency was the key to the victory. Coming in second place was the Canonsburg, Pa., native, Rocco Salvitti. His 48 on the front nine was one stroke better than the back nine, giving him a 97 total. Rounding out the group was Zachary Locke of Horsheads, N.Y. Locke recorded a 111 today to take home the third place trophy. Par was set at 72 for all competitors.
Girls 14-18 Division
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Separated by just three shots, the Girls 14-18 division was won or lost on one hole. Taking home the crown was Caroline Wrigley of Wexford, Pa. After a pair of top fives on the HJGT this season, Wrigley found the winner’s circle. Wrigley birdied three holes on the front nine and shot 37 en route to a four-over-par 76. On her heels was Independence, Ohio, native Sophia Trombetta, a winner on the HJGT last week in Ohio. Trombetta birdied two holes on the back nine: the par-4 12th and par-5 16th. When asked what her favorite hole was, she smiled and said “the 16th for sure because I birdied it”. Taking third place out of 16 in the division was Danae Rugola of Uniontown, Pa. Rugola’s round was highlighted by a birdie on the par-4 sixth hole.
Girls 13U Division
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Running away with the show was Vileski Gelpi from Markleton, Pa. Her best nine was the back nine thanks in part to the lone birdie of the division on the par-4 16th. Overall, Gelpi was 10-over-par this weekend at the Pittsburgh Jr. Shootout; the 13-stroke victory was the largest margin of victory for any division. Coming in second out of three was Butler, Pa., native Paige Scott. Scott played bogey and par golf this weekend shooting a 50 and 45 during the round. Her 23-over-par total was nine strokes better than third place. Rounding out the division was Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland, Colo. Along with most other scores from today, the front nine was the best for Lehigh as she shot 50 compared to 54 on the back.
April 10 Weather Low 20, High 43, Winds 5-15 mph, Partly Cloudy, Wet course conditions, Very Cold
Tournament Yardages Boys 16-18 yards: 6,500 yards Boys 14-15 yards: 6,500 yards Boys 11-13 yards: 5,658 yards Girls 14-18 yards: 5,658 yards Girls 13U yards: 5,075 yards