Sikora’s 85 leads Central Cambria to title
By Michael Boytim
CRESSON — Central Cambria’s high school girls golf team entered the District 6 Class 2A championships as the defending champions and the favorites to repeat.
Then Monday’s first round was rained out.
Knowing his team would have just one day to shoot the required 300 or lower to advance past districts cut into Central Cambria coach Keith Gilkey’s sleep prior to Tuesday’s round.
Though he was on edge, Gilkey kept his composure around the girls, and if any of the Lady Devils were nervous, they didn’t show it. Central Cambria dominated the team competition, 271-312, over second-place Penn Cambria and got an 85 from Jaylee Sikora, who won the individual 2A district title at the Summit Country Club.
“We’re all super-duper excited,” Sikora said. “I was hoping to shoot in the mid-80s, and I only had one three-putt today. I tried super hard this summer to improve, and my putting and the straightness of my drives got much better.”
Though it’s the second year in a row the Lady Devils were crowned champions, their team score wasn’t good enough to advance past district play a year ago. Central Cambria will advance directly to the PIAA Championships in York, because no District 5 girls team qualified for regionals.
“It was such a huge disappointment last year to win, be the best team in the district, but not be able to get out and move on,” Gilkey said. “I’m ecstatic, the girls are ecstatic and everyone is excited to move on to states.”
Sikora will be joined at the PIAA Western Regional individual tournament at Tom’s Run in Blairsville on Monday by teammate Ally Simmers, who shot a 91 and finished third overall.
“Last year we barely missed it, and we didn’t want to get so close again and miss out,” Simmers said. “We tried a little harder this summer, and it worked out. We were out every day and practiced hours and hours trying to lower our scores.”
Both players said they were looking forward to the chance to advance to states as individuals as well as competing in the team competition.
“Jaylee is my best friend, so it feels so good to be going (to regionals) with her,” Simmers said.
Sadee LaRose, the third member of the squad Gilkey calls his “big three” carded a 95 and finished tied for fifth with Northern Cambria’s Sarah Tibbott. Tibbott won a card-off to get the fifth-place medal.
Between Sikora, Simmers and LaRose, Central Cambria’s medalist during matches has shifted throughout its undefeated season.
“(Getting past districts) was their motivation this summer,” Gilkey said. “The other girls knew they’d really have to step up. All summer long, didn’t matter what time, the girls would show up and practice. This is a tribute to their hard work. They were not going to be denied.”
Sikora is Central Cambria’s third individual district champion in as many years.
“It’s super exciting to keep the individual district title at Central Cambria,” Gilkey said. “We’ve had Lauren (Stevens) the last two years, and Sikora kept up the streak this year. Hopefully one of our five gets it next year. We have a great tradition of golf at Central Cambria that started long before I was here.”
Along with Sikora and Simmers, two other local golfers qualified for the PIAA Western Regional.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s Halle Herrington rode her long drives to an 89, good enough for a runner-up finish.
“My drive is the strongest part of my game,” Herrington said. “I have been working on my short game the past couple weeks and trying to get that settled down.”
Herrington and Simmers were paired with a Ligonier Valley golfer who shot 153. As a result, both golfers said it was tough to stay in the flow while waiting several minutes to hit their next shot each time.
“It’s definitely hard, because you get out of your rhythm,” Herrington said. “You get set up, look for your shot, get your vision right and then it goes away. You forget about it because of the time in between swings.”
Lauren Michina of Penn Cambria claimed the final spot in regionals by shooting a 94 and will be playing there for a second consecutive year.
“It’s exciting to be moving on,” Michina said. “We didn’t get to play yesterday, and it’s my senior year. I wanted to keep going. I missed states by one stroke last year, and I’m really excited to get another chance.”
Tournament notes: State College won the 3A team championship, 283-354, over runner-up Hollidaysburg. … Cassandra Vogel of Bellefonte defeated Kaylee Richards of State College in a one-hole playoff for the 3A individual district title. Both girls shot a 92. … Hollidaysburg’s Reagan LeCrone shot a 104 to finish seventh, and Lady Tiger Taylor Hileman shot 106 to finish eighth.
2A TEAM RESULTS (TOP TEAM ADVANCES)
1, Central Cambria (CC) 271: Sikora 85, Simmers 91, LaRose 95; 2, Penn Cambria (PC) 312: Michina 94, Simanski 108, Krug 110; 3, Philipsburg-Osceola (PO) 318: Herrington 89, Potter 112, Podliski 117; 4, Forest Hills (FH) 332: Zajdel 101, Ferchalk 112, Miller 119; 5, Ligonier Valley (LV) 352: Klinchock 99, Valencia 122, Pecora 131.
2A INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP FOUR ADVANCE)
1, Sikora, CC, 85; 2, Herrington, PO, 89; 3, Simmers, CC, 91; 4, Michina, PC, 94; T-5, Tibbott, NC, 95; T-5, LaRose, CC, 95; 7, DeGrange, Westmont Hilltop, 96; 8, Klinchock, LV, 99; 9, Zajdel, FH, 101; 10, Weaver, Northern Cambria, 102; 11, Stevens, CC, 104; 12, Simanski, PC, 108; 13, Krug, PC, 110; 14, DeMartino, Richland, 111; T-15, Ferchalk, FH, 112; T-15, Potter, PO, 112; 17, Tercek, BM, 114; 18, Wirfel, PC, 115; 19, Kiepert, CC, 116; T-20, Podliski, PO, 117; T-20, Ringler, PC, 117; 22, Miller, FH, 119; 23, Valencia, LV, 122; 24, Pecora, LV, 131; 25, Latoche, PC, 134; 26, Davison, NC, 150; 27, Kistler, LV, 153; 28, Sheriff, LV, 160; 29, Eckroth, Richland, 165.
3A TEAM RESULTS (TOP TEAM ADVANCES)
1, State College (SC) 283: Richards 92, Bachman 94, Kracaw 97; 2, Hollidaysburg (H) 354: LeCrone 104, Hileman 106, Greenland 144.
3A INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (WINNER ADVANCES)
1, Vogel, Bellefonte, 92; 2, Richards, SC, 92; 3, Bachman, SC, 94; 4, Kracaw, SC, 97; 5, Mochan, SC, 101; 6, Knode, Mifflin County, 102; 7, LeCrone, H, 104; 8, Hileman, H, 106; 9, Cepullio, SC, 113; 10, Greenland, H, 144; 11, Jennings, H, 165.