The Derry Area boys’ golf team didn’t get the desired final result, but the seven-week sprint to the WPIAL Class 2A championship match was still a memorable one for the Trojans.
Derry Area shot a 459 as a team and finished sixth in the district during Thursday’s WPIAL Class 2A championship match at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Rostraver Township.
“It wasn’t the finish that we wanted, but I told my kids they have nothing to hang their heads for,” Derry Area coach Tracey Smeltzer said. “It’s a bittersweet ending to a season that crammed a lot of golf into a short period of time. I can’t say enough about the work ethic of these kids.”
Sewickley Academy captured its eighth consecutive WPIAL Class 2A championship with a 418, while Quaker Valley finished second (436) and Carmichaels third with a 449, just 10 strokes from Derry Area’s sixth-place effort.
Derry Area entered the WPIAL Class 2A Team Championship match with momentum. The Trojans, competing in the WPIAL Class 2A championship for the second consecutive season, finished just 10 strokes from Sewickley Academy, and one ahead of third-place Carmichaels during Monday’s WPIAL Class 2A semifinal at Duck Hollow Golf Club in Uniontown.
The brisk fall temperatures and wind conditions played a factor on Thursday.
“The gusting winds made it hard to judge and place the ball where you wanted it,” Smeltzer said. “They played a tough course under very windy conditions, and the leaves led to some lost balls that should not have been lost balls.
“Fall golf can be very difficult. There were some bright spots, as we saw that we can hang with the now eight-time Class 2A champs, and a very good Quaker Valley team, who won the section against Sewickley Academy this year.”
The event organizers didn’t help either, as Smeltzer and Sewickley Academy athletic director Win Palmer saw first-hand.
“Before the first groups teed off, I was standing with Win Palmer and watched them cut the hole on 18,” Smeltzer said. “We both just shook our heads because it’s a tiered green and they put (the hole) way up top, which is about as difficult as it gets. That should have been fair warning that the pins were going to be in difficult places.”
The Trojans still enjoyed a solid showing at the WPIAL Class 2A Championship match.
Hunter Jurica led the Trojans with an 80, which was second individually, only to Sewickley Academy’s Joey Mucci, who came in with a 76. Jurica was one stroke better than Tom Fitzgerald, a Sewickley Academy standout, who captured the WPIAL Class 2A Individual championship earlier this year.
“Hunter Jurica turned some heads,” Smeltzer said. “He was excited about that. Hunter started off on his first hole, the 10th, with not his best tee shot, but ended up with a birdie, and that set the tone for his game.”
Ryan Bushey, the lone senior in the Trojans’ lineup, fired a 92. He started on the back-nine and was paired with Fitzgerald. Bushey went head-to-head with Fitzgerald, and was just one stroke behind before the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion pulled away down the stretch.
“Ryan Bushey, and how the kids responded to his leadership says a great deal about him,” Smeltzer said. “I can’t ask him for anything more. He gave me 100% for four years, and if he wants to play in college, he will be an asset to any college team.”
Bryce Baum shot a 94 for Derry Area, while Antonio Hauser finished one stroke behind with a 95. Nick Thomas also added a 98 for the Trojans, who earned 11 wins for their third section championship in four years.
Derry Area won its first section title in golf since 1974 during the 2017 season. The Trojans added to that with another section title in 2019 and a third in four years – the first outright title – this season.
Last season, Derry Area also advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A team championship where the Trojans finished fifth in the district.
They capped this season with another trip to the WPIAL Class 2A championship match.
“This group of kids gave everything they had day-in and day-out,” Smeltzer said. “I couldn’t be any more proud of them. They exemplify sportsmanship, they love the game and they just want to play.
“I don’t have to say anything to them. They have better golf etiquette than most adults on Sunday afternoon. We will continue to improve in the offseason. This isn’t the end of the road for us.”