From Mirror reports
BLAIRSVILLE - Hollidaysburg's Hunter Shields was understandably upset after a runner-up finish in the District 6 Class AAA high school golf tournament last week at Scotch Valley Country Club.
Shields had a four-stroke lead at one point in the final round before a two-stroke penalty forced him into a playoff with State College's Ben Gelenberg in which Gelenberg came out on top.
Shields was much more upbeat about another runner-up performance Wednesday - this one coming in the PIAA Western Regional at Tom's Run.
The Hollidaysburg senior shot an even par of 72 to finish one stroke behind regional champion Patrick Sheerer of Fox Chapel. The finish earned him one of only 10 spots from the west side of the state in the Class AAA final at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York on Monday.
"Going into [Wednesday], my goal was to just play the course," Shields said. "I wasn't really worried about what everyone else was doing, I just wanted to go out there and score."
Gelenberg shot 81 Wednesday and did not make the cut.
For most of the day, Shields didn't need to worry about anyone else, because he was ahead of everyone.
Shields was 2-under par through 11 holes after starting on No. 2 but made a double bogey on No. 13 after hitting into a sand trap. However, Shields recovered and played even par the rest of the day following that hole.
"The stuff I dealt with in the District 6 championship made me stronger [Wednesday]," Shields said. "After I made that double bogey, I was able to hold on to my composure and play through it."
Shields was tied for the lead with three holes left, but Sheerer made birdie on No. 18, which was his 16th hole, and held on for a one-stroke victory.
"I'm extremely happy and excited for Hunter," Hollidaysburg golf coach Bryan James said. "I had a feeling he was going to play well from how he was acting. To see a kid make a jump from his last year to this year is amazing. He's overcome a lot, and I'm pretty proud of him."
Shields said he felt comfortable at Tom's Run despite playing in the Western Regional for the first time.
"I thought the course fit my game well," Shields said. "You could hit it off the tee in various directions and still have a shot at the green. Playing a course I haven't played before helps me focus more, and I focused on every shot."
Shields won't be the only local golfer making the trip to York next week.
Central Cambria's Jeremy Eckenrode, the District 6 Class AA champion, shot a 75 and finished sixth to move on. Red Devil teammate Dom Stevens shot a 77 and also finished in the top 20 to move on to the Class AA individual championship. Keenan Hickton of Sewickley Academy won the Class AA boys regional.
"It's awesome both Dom and I made it, because we both really wanted it," Eckenrode said. "I played pretty well except for making a double bogey on my last hole. It means a lot, because one of my main goals at the start of the year was to qualify for states."
Claysburg-Kimmel's Tyler Brown shot a 78, finished 13th, and will also be moving on to states a year after being eliminated at the Western Regional.
Bedford's Kevin McDaniel did not make the cut for the second consecutive year.
McDaniel's teammate Kourtney Mortimer also saw her season come to a close as did Penn Cambria's Morgan Krug. Mortimer, the 2012 District 5 champion, shot a 101 and Krug finished at 94.
Also eliminated was Everett's Logan Brallier. The three-time District 5 champion shot a 106 and failed to move past the Western Regionals for the fourth consecutive year.
"Logan has been the cornerstone as far as playing No. 1, and she's been a steadying force, because she's been so consistent," Everett coach Gene Decker said. "We could always count on her to come through for us and she's been excellent in districts over the years. Hopefully she's been an inspiration to other girls who can follow in her footsteps."
The PIAA individual championships will begin at Heritage Hills on Monday at 8:30 a.m.