CRESSON - Max Kirsch and the Central Cambria golf team each got one step closer to repeating as district champions Tuesday at Summit Country Club.
And they did it despite extremely wet conditions.
Kirsch battled sporadic rain showers through most of the day and a late-round light fog on his way to a 7-over 79 to lead his Red Devil teammates to the top spot of the District 6 Class AA qualifier.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Tyrone’s Greg Ferguson tees off on the 13th hole at Summit Country Club.
He tied with Homer-Center's Ian Illig for first place overall.
"It was rough - a little wet," Kirsch said. "I had a couple bad holes coming down the stretch. Everyone else had it rough, too, so it wasn't too bad."
Nearly every golfer, including the leaders, had up and down days because of the soggy course, but club pro Randy Repko felt the event couldn't have gone better given the circumstances.
"The golf course was the focal point today," he said. "I have to thank [greenskeeper] John Merlini and his staff for getting the course ready because it was in excellent shape, even with all the rain we got. The main concern was just having the course playable.
"The kids had a difficult day because the course plays longer, too, so scores were a little higher. The kids were great. They had a good attitude about it."
Kirsch and Illig played in the same group as Tyrone's Greg Ferguson and Richland's Brady Moran, and both were behind by at least four strokes through 10 holes.
Moran was 1-under on the front, but after getting par on the 10th, his round fell apart with four bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey.
Ferguson was somewhat in the same boat. He double-bogeyed three straight holes on the back nine and bogeyed two others to erase his even-par effort on the front.
Moran and Ferguson each finished one stroke behind with 8-over 80s after Kirsch and Illig each were consistent to conclude their rounds.
"It was a struggle," Ferguson said. "The greens were saturated. They got really slow, and then on top of that, not hitting the ball straight when you need to just made it really tough.
"The front 9, I went out with a clear head. I was prepared for the rain. I knew I was going to get wet, and I executed and hit it where I was supposed to. I stayed positive. On the back, I made some mistakes and let my mind get away from it."
Rounding out those that made the cut, Central's Matt Dillon and Claysburg-Kimmel's Austin Lamont squeaked into next week's tournament with matching rounds of 90.
In all, 31 individuals moved on past the qualifier.
"It feels pretty good," Dillon said of advancing. "I was very nervous [watching scores post]."
Lamont's performance assured that both Claysburg golfers in the field advanced. Tyler Brown carded an 83 for a top 10 finish.
"I had a couple of blow-up holes, but after that, I stuck with it," Lamont said. "It feels good. I'm glad I made it to districts."
Tuesday's round definitely sets the stage for next week's two-day district championship at Scotch Valley.
Last year, Kirsch, Moran and Ferguson were the top three finishers in the single-classification event. This year, they - along with Illig - are the ones to beat in the first ever Double-A tournament.
"This week is definitely not as important as districts," Ferguson said. "It's still important, but it's just a matter of being sharp, just trying to execute shots and get in the mind set of getting ready to compete through the rest of the postseason."
Central Cambria (336) will be the favorite at Scotch Valley after its nine-stroke victory over Richland (345) on Tuesday. Homer-Center (355) was third in the team standings, while Penn Cambria (359) edged out Bishop McCort (362) for the fourth and final qualifying position.
"It gives me a lot of confidence going into next week," Kirsch said of his round. "It'll be a lot of fun.
"I think [the team will] have a good shot [to win] districts next week. I'm going to try my best to win again."
Top 4 teams advance
1, CC-Central Cambria, 336; 2, R-Richland, 345; 3, HC-Homer-Center, 355; 4, PC-Penn Cambria, 359; 5, BM-Bishop McCort, 362; 6-t, C-Central, 373; 6-t, NC-Northern Cambria, 373; 8, B-Blairsville, 375; 9, BC-Bishop Carroll, 378; 10-t, WH-Westmont Hilltop, 383; 10-t, BA-Bellwood-Antis, 383; 10-t, LV-Ligonier Valley, 383; 13, FH-Forest Hills, 400.
BG-Bishop Guilfoyle, CK-Claysburg-Kimmel, F-Ferndale, JV-Juniata Valley, MC-Marion Center, MU-Mount Union, PO-Philipsburg-Osceola, P-Portage, SJ-St. Joseph, T-Tyrone, U-United.
Top 30 individuals advance
1-t, Max Kirsch, CC, 79; 1-t, Ian Illig, HC, 79; 3-t, Brady Moran, R, 80; 3-t, Greg Ferguson, T, 80; 5-t, Garrett Bastardi, SJ, 81; 5-t, Jacob Humphreys, F, 81; 7, Nick Piskurich, BM, 82; 8-t, Jeremy Eckenrode, CC, 83; 8-t, Tyler Brown, CK, 83; 8-t, Nate Wilden, HC, 83; 11, Tyler Heldman, MC, 84; 12, Ian Dunmyer, PC, 85; 13-t, Tyler Tiesi, 86; 13-t, Sam Stevens, CC, 86; 13-t, Randy Bates, LV, 86; 16-t, Chris Michelone, BG, 87; 16-t, Connor Moran, R, 87; 16-t, Scott Ranck, BC, 87; 16-t, John Finger, LV, 87; 16-t, Austin Degrange, 87; 21-t, Dom Stevens, CC, 88; 21-t, Brady Goodling, MU, 88; 21-t, Nolan Link, PC, 88; 21-t, Dillon Perino, PC, 88; 25-t, Andy Reifer, PO, 89; 25-t, Ryan Orlovsky, R, 89; 25-t, Nate Niessner, BM, 89; 25-t, Connor Bomba, R, 89; 25-t, Anthony Bono, U, 89; 30-t, Matt Dillon, C, 90; 30-t, Austin Lamont, CK, 90.
Other area individuals
32, Jarrett Ritchey, C, 91; 33-t, Gabe Seymour, CC, 92; 33-t, Mark Farrell, NC, 92; 38-t, Jake Pearson, BA, 93; 38-t, Caleb Oldham, BC, 93; 41-t, Ben Brumbaugh, C, 94; 41-t, Alex Bobolsky, P, 94; 45-t, Connor Wharton, BG, 95; 45-t, Steffan Wyland, BA, 95; 50-t, Adam Osborne, BA, 96; 54-t, Ray McCullough, NC, 97; 54-t, Zach Farabaugh, BC, 97; 58-t, Preston Gregg, C, 98; 58-t, Jacob Stevens, PC, 98; 58-t, Jim Rescinito, NC, 98; 63-t, Curt Messner, BA, 99; 66-t, Randy Hodgson, CC, 100; 66-t, Ryan Mills, C, 100; 68-t, Luke Vasilko, BC, 101; 68-t, Kordell Collins, JV, 101; 68-t, Brandon Walkovich, P, 101; 79-t, Brian Sullivan, BG, 106; 79-t, Elijah DeHaven, T, 106; 85-t, Ben Stollo, NC, 108; 90, Zack Lee, NC, 126; Ed Madey, BG, WD; Josh Surkovich, BC, WD.