Champions back and ready to defend titles

McAlkich, Ferguson, Sikora and Mountain Lions hope to repeat

10/05/16 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Tyrone's Andrew Ferguson tees off.

District 6 champions return all across the board for high school golf teams in the Mirror’s coverage area.

Altoona’s Derek McAlkich, the District 6 Class 3A individual champion last year, returns to help the Mountain Lions defend their Class 3A team title. In Class 2A, Tyrone’s Andrew Ferguson is coming off a individual district title with eyes on another, which would match his older brother, Jimmy.

District 6 Class 2A individual champion Jaylee Sikora returns to lead Central Cambria, which will be vying for another team title. Sikora will get plenty of competition from her fellow teammates and Philipsburg-Osceola senior standout Halle Herrington.

Tanner Pershing, a first-team Mirror All-Star last year, returns for his senior season at Northern Cambria, while second-teamer Kyler Pennabaker of Chestnut Ridge should be in the running for the District 5 championship.

Due to concerns about students missing too much time in school, some changes have been made in high school golf this season. The Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference has switched from 18-hole meets to nine-hole meets, and the District 6 championships will be one day instead of two.

“The District 6 boys and girls golf tournaments will now be one-day tournaments,” District 6 officials representative Mike Hudak said. “The committee decided to go to a one-day tournament as a response to a lot of schools questioning us, because there’s so much time out of school in high school golf. So, taking that into consideration, it will now be a one-day tournament for the boys at Scotch Valley and a one-day tournament for the girls at the Summit.”

The boys will still participate in sectionals prior to districts, while the girls will continue to go directly into districts.

The following is a capsulized preview of each team in the Mirror’s coverage area.

Altoona

Coach: Erick Kozak, 14th year

Career record: 122-47-4

Last year’s record: 11-0

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Derek McAlkich, sr; Caleb Tilson, sr.; A.J. Thompson, sr.; Dom Fasolo, jr.; Scotty Lawhead, so.

Other returners: Nick Casillo, jr.; Bob Mancinelli, so.

Newcomers: Drew Graupensberger, jr.; Cameron Geisler, so.l Marcus Lucas, so.; A.J. Pacifico, so.; Kyle Hite, fr.; Luke Rokosky, fr.; Lucas Muffie, fr.; Cameron Patterson, fr.

Strengths: “We have a solid group of three or four players who have had varsity experience and know what it takes to win. We return our top golfer from last year as well as three of our top six players. We have been working hard all summer and feel this will carry into the season and help us be successful.”

Concerns: “Relying on some newcomers to fill out our top six. Staying focused throughout the season. Blending a team together after having lost five seniors from last year. Someone to step up and take a leadership position.”

Overall outlook: “Once again, we hope to be peaking at the right time and have a chance to compete for a district title.”

Assistant coaches: None

Bedford

Coach: Matt Barkman, ninth year

Career record: 74-43

Last year’s record: 13-2

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Brett Predix, jr.; Jared Turner, jr.; Joey Windows, jr.; Kaden Anderson, jr.; John Imgrund, so.

Other returners: Drew Hall, jr.; Rachael Feaster, jr.

Newcomers: Chase Cessna, jr.; Jace Growden, sr.; Gavin Habinyak, jr.; Haydyn Snavely, so.; Ryan Seifert, fr.; Eli Dunn, fr.; Matthew Tokarczyk, fr.

Strengths: “We return a ton of match experience. We finished on a streak of winning our last eight matches. I am hopeful that they will carry that momentum over into this season.”

Concerns: “Consistency.”

Overall outlook: “Expectations are high. Our goals are to compete for a conference championship and district title.”

Assistant coaches: Adam Ritchey, Jesse Topper

Bellwood-Antis

Coach: Galen Claar, sixth year

Career record: 10-47

Last year’s record: 2-6

Conference: Inter-County

Returning starters: Noah Patton, so.

Other returners: None

Newcomers: Wyatt Anderson, so.; Ryan Malone, so.; Holden McClellan, so.; Jeremy Brown, fr.; Arrhen Gatagan, fr.

Strengths: “Posiive attitude.”

Concerns: “Lack of experience.”

Overall outlook: “Looking forward to working with these young scholar athletes in learning to compete and have fun playing the great game of golf.”

Assistant coaches: None

Bishop Carroll

Coach: Doug Link, 18th year (first year back)

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Jacob Vasilko, sr.; Austin Oravec, jr.; Kaleb Hilyer, jr.; Devin Gomish, sr.

Other returners: Brandon Farabaugh, jr.

Newcomers: Dino Menie, fr.; James Clapper, so.

Girls: Taylor Ostinowsky, jr.; Faith McMullen, jr.; Gracie Kirkpatrick, so.; Lauren Bender, jr.

Strengths: “Jacob Vasilko should be a team leader as a senior.”

Concerns: “Youth and inexperience.”

Overall outlook: “Just like to see the kids get better and improve their game.”

Assistant coaches: None

Bishop Guilfoyle

Coach: Tyler Vincent, second year

Career record: 3-7

Last year’s record: 3-7

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: John Fiore; Sam Fiore; Robbie Byrne; Kyle Goss; Ethan Miller; A.J. Marasco

Other returners: Sam Barber; Ayden Craine; Adam Mason; Ashlee Rumbaugh

Newcomers: Nathan Rice; Michael Lamb

Strengths: “We have many returning this year plus some new incoming talent. We are building experience and our talents.”

Concerns: “Our inexperience at a high competitive level.”

Overall outlook: “We plan to compete on a new level for 2018. We’re here to make a statement!”

Assistant coaches: Brett Miller, Dusty Mauk

Central

Coach: Robbie Keith, 12th year

Last year’s record: 20-10

Conference: Mountain

Returning starters: Jarod Dick, sr.; Brandon White, sr.; Mason Baker, jr.; Noah Bauman, jr.; Jason Ferry, jr.; Jacob Dick, so.

Other returners: Isaac Glass, sr.; Tyler Thompson, so.; Trent Smith, jr.

Newcomers: Austin Bridenbaugh, jr.; Lucas Leslie, so.; Jerry Brumbaugh, fr.; Tyler Helsel, fr.; Jonah Snowberger, fr.; Cohen Fisher, fr.; Matt Ritchey, fr.

Strengths: “We have a good core of players who have experience playing in competitive golf matches which will hopefully translate into us having success this season. Some of those players put in a tremendous amount of time this summer, and I believe it will pay off in a big way for them.”

Concerns: “We have a lot of newcomers this year so the coaching staff will have to balance teaching newcomers all the things they need to know, with advancing the ability of the players who have been around already.”

Overall outlook: “I’m very optimistic about how we will do this season based on the work our top players put in this offseason. It’s up to the players behind them to step up and win us some matches.”

Assistant coaches: Zach Wozniak

Central Cambria

Coach: Keith Gilkey, fourth year

Career record: 25-4

Last year’s record: 7-2

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Alec Gabrielson, jr.; Alex Gibson, jr.; Sam Swope, jr.; Brian Walwro, jr.

Other returners: Jake Garrity, so.

Newcomers: Dominick LaRose, so.; Brayden Mennett, fr.; Ian Mulligan, fr.; Lavan Powell, fr.; Noah Wilson, fr.

Strengths: “Returning experience. We are returning five boys with match and district experience from last year.”

Concerns: “The Laurel Highlands teams are always well prepared and well coached, so we will see tough opponents every match.”

Overall outlook: “We hope to be competitive in our conference and district playoffs.”

Assistant coaches: Gretchen Getz

Chestnut Ridge

Coach: Chuck Corle, fourth year

Career record: 30-16

Last year’s record: 13-3

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Kyler Pennabaker, sr.; Joe Stultz, sr.; Caleb Jacobson, sr.; Noah Hillegass, jr.; Kamden Clapper, jr.; Coby Miller, jr.

Other players: Macy Walason, sr.; Meredith Clark, sr.; Mathew Stuart, jr.; Seth Williams, jr.; Jacob Dicken, jr.

Strengths: “Six returning starters.”

Concerns: “Going into new conference.”

Overall outlook: “Just get better as season goes and get ready for the District 5 playoffs.”

Everett

Coach: Michael Walker, fifth year

Career record: 24-29

Last year’s record: 4-8

Conference: Inter-County

Returning starters: Olivia Sipes, sr.; Isaac Snyder, sr.; Brighton Williams, jr.; Leroy Clark, jr.; Wyatt McGowan, jr.; Dylan Taylor, so.

Other returners: Colby Valdiva, jr.

Newcomers: Grayson Hall, sr.; Isiah Schumaker, fr.; Charlotte Miller, fr.; Chloe Elbin, fr.

Strengths: “Have a good group of upper classmen with a lot of match experience that have continued to grow and practice hard to have their game where it is and be ready for this season.”

Concerns: “Avoiding the big numbers on the golf course and knowing how to respond when it happens. Eliminating strokes around the greens and three- and four-putting.”

Overall outlook: “To practice hard and get better each and every day and to bring our scores down little by little each week. To be competitive in all of our matches and win our conference this year. To knock off at least 10 strokes by the end of the season and be competitive in our district championship this year.”

Assistant coaches: None

Hollidaysburg

Coach: Bryan James, eighth year

Career record: 63-15-3

Last year’s record: 4-3-2

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Jake Gallagher, sr.; Anthony Martinelli, sr.; Thad Baughman, sr.; Quinn Garrity, jr.; Gaige Orndoff, jr. Eric Davis, so.

Other returners: Kolby Kirkham, jr.; Jack Aigner, so.; Camden Aumen, so.; Zach Clapper, so.

Newcomers: Nick Matteson, jr.; Frank Yeager, jr.; Lucas Goodman, so.; George Cumming, fr.

Strengths: “Experienced returning class.”

Concerns: “Depth and ability to maintain consistency.”

Overall outlook: “We desire to better our most recent campaign and look to lean on strong returning leadership.”

Assistant coaches: Jerry Landry

Huntingdon

Coach: Scott Eichelberger, 12th year

Career record: 67-97-1

Last year’s record: 24-9

Conference: Mountain

Returning starters: Noah Strickler, sr.; Levi Briggs, jr.; Jackson Ritchey, jr.; Brady Handy, so.

Other returners: Thomas Wilson, sr.; Gaige Brumbaugh, jr.; Rece Ritchey, jr.

Newcomers: Zach Long, so.; Luke Thompson, so.

Strengths: “Many of the players spent time this summer playing local tournaments and a few played in junior tournaments around the state.”

Concerns: “Getting some of the players out of summer baseball and into golf mode.”

Overall outlook: “Looking for a strong year again in the Mountain League.”

Assistant coaches: None

Northern Cambria

Coach: T.J. Mullen, eighth year

Career record: 62-19

Last year’s record: 11-1

Conference: Heritage

Returning starters: Tanner Pershing, sr.; Derek Stafford, jr.

Other returners: Aaron Krug, jr.; Troy Paronish, jr.; Macey Davison, jr.; Carson Pershing, jr.; Alyssa Delosh, so.; Tyler Kerfonta, so.

Newcomers: Jacob Paronish, fr.; Nathan Bolvin, fr.; Logan Parrish, fr.; R.J. Spears, jr.; Jenah Lombardo, jr.

Strengths: “The strength of this team is the hard work and dedication each player exhibits in practice. We have some experience to build off of. We have a solid five or six kids led by our senior Tanner Pershing, who is one of the strongest players in the area.”

Concerns: “We are young, so we will experience some growing pains along the way. We graduated six seniors, so there are some holes to fill.”

Overall outlook: “This team expects to compete and claim another conference title (which would be their fourth straight) and make a run at districts. If the kids work hard and can recover from the ups and downs, we will achieve our goals.I am very optimistic heading into this season.”

Assistant coaches: None

Penn Cambria

Coach: Chris Wilk, 30th year

Career record: 151-153-2

Last year’s record: 6-5

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Colin Reese, sr.; Matt Garrett, sr.; Tanner Fogel, jr.; Gregory Caldwell, so.; Brodie O’Donnell, so.; Brody Vinglish, so.

Other returners: Matt Smith, sr.; Chase Heiss, sr.; Mike Sanders, sr.; Cameron Sumner, jr.; Ian McGonigle, jr.; Jarod Hoover, jr.

Newcomers: Matt Kearney, so.; Thomas Weakland, so.; Braden Phister, so.; Dalton Lee, fr.; Landon Kennedy, fr.

Strengths: “Experienced group of returning starters. Depth, with many players near ready for competition. Good core group of talented underclassmen.”

Concerns: “We must maintain a level of consistency throughout the season from the first match to districts. As always, playing away matches is a concern for all coaches, so we must be prepared to adapt to varied playing conditions. Laurel Highlands has gone to nine-hole matches, so 18-hole events will be a concern.”

Overall outlook: “The team is looking forward to this season and is prepared to do well. We used last year as a setup for this season, and hopefully we can get off to a fast start and build confidence as we go. Many players have been on the golf course competing in junior tournaments and attending clinics all summer, so we expect to see score averages from last year drop dramatically.”

Assistant coaches: Jacque Claar

Philipsburg-Osceola

Coach: Jordan Albright, third year

Career record: 35-16-1

Last year’s record: 14-15-1

Conference: Mountain

Returning starters: Brandon Singer, jr.; Ky Bender, jr.; Tyler Doyle, jr.; Chad Frank, jr.; Jake Vaux, jr.; Trent Butler, so.

Other returners: None

Newcomers: Keegan Soltis, jr.; Isiah Dixon, sr.; Elliot Croyle, fr.; Tristen Doyle, fr.

Strengths: “The starters from last season are all returning, and we will be adding four other golfers to the team that I know of so far.”

Concerns: “As with every season dealing with situational golf, making adjustments mid-round and peaking as a team at the right time.”

Overall outlook: “This group of young men have worked very hard during the offseasonto prepare for this season. They have completely bought into our team philosophy and expect them to get better every week just as they did last year.”

Assistant coaches: None

Portage

Coach: Scott Burda, second year

Career record: 10-6

Last year’s record: 10-6

Conference: WestPAC

Returning starters: Jon Brickley, so.; Austin Gentile, so.; Eli Selapack, jr.

Other returners: Logan Arnold, jr.; Tristen Gressick, so.

Newcomers: Jack Graessle, jr.; Max Herman, jr.; Ethan Dyche, fr.; Gavin Gouse, fr.

Strengths: “A group of young golfers who enjoy the game.”

Concerns: “Depth.”

Overall outlook: “We have a young group is year with only a few having match experience. I am looking for us to improve as the season progresses and to have some players qualify for districts.”

Assistant coaches: Jeff Vasilko

Tussey Mt./No. Bedford

Coach: Toby Horsh, fourth year

Conference: Inter-County

Returning starters: Brook Troutman, sr.; Cale Weidler, sr.; Ethan Hess, so.; Noah Dibert, so.

Other returners: None

Newcomers: Josh Raycroft, fr.; Christian Herdman, fr.; Jayden Horton, fr.; Jaden Gibson, fr.

Strengths: “Our two seniors have been with me four years know, so they know what is involved. They know the courses, and they know what they need to do to score well. We also have a couple of other boys that I think that can really improve over last year”

Concerns: “The biggest concern is that I have a lot of our boys that this is the first year they’ve played any kind of golf, let alone competitive golf.”

Overall outlook: “As always, I just hope the boys improve as the season goes on and maybe we can squeak out a win or two.”

Assistant coaches: None

Tyrone

Coach: Greg Ferguson, 14th year

Career record: 115-54-2

Last year’s record: 26-4

Conference: Mountain League

Returning starters: Andrew Ferguson, sr.; Trey Kyle, jr.; Brent McNeel, jr.; Chris Wilkins, jr.; Jacob Taylor, so.

Other returners: Tyler Beckwith, jr.; Cody Harpster, jr.; Hunter Walk, so.

Newcomers: Samuel Ayers, sr.; Jeremy Byers, jr.; Benedict DelBaggio, jr.; Jeffery Hendrickson, so.; Dylan Paul, so.; Colton Brooks, fr.

Strengths: “We are returning all starters who have seen a lot of play this summer including Andrew Ferguson, the league MVP, District 6 Champion and state qualifier as well as Jacob Taylor, a district qualifier. We also have some promising newcomers.”

Concerns: “A concern is always the individual preparation done over the summer.”

Overall outlook: “This season we will have our best overall team in recent years. I believe we can repeat as the conference champions. There is much potential to extend past sectionals/districts and further into the postseason with this team.”

Assistant coaches: None

GIRLS

Central Cambria

Coach: Keith Gilkey, third year

Career record: 18-0

Last year’s record: 13-0

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Sadie LaRose, sr.; Ally Simmers, sr.; Lauren Kiepert, jr.; Jaylee Sikora, jr.; Megan Stevens, so.

Other returners: Jocelyn Wisor, jr.

Newcomers: Cydney Forcellini, so.; Kaitlyn Lauer, so.

Strengths: “The entire District 6 championship girls team is back.”

Concerns: “Many teams on the girls’ schedule will be very good.”

Overall outlook: “We hope to be competitive in our conference and district playoffs.”

Assistant coaches: Gretchen Getz

Hollidaysburg

Coach: Bernie Jubeck, eighth year

Career record: 69-29-1

Last year’s record: 12-5

Conference: Independent

Returning starters: Anna Jennings, sr.; Taylor Hileman, jr.; Morgan Bihary, so.; Megan Dinges, so.

Other returners: Sawyer Glass, jr.; Allison Patrick, jr.

Newcomers: Emma Cummings, jr.; Natalie Nagle, jr.; Maddie Smith, so.; Samantha Shumaker, so.; Ava Ventura, so.; McKenzie Woods, so.; Peyton Bihary, fr.; Sabrina Sargent, fr.

Strengths: “Excellent number of girls (14) who have the desire, enthusiasm and capability to become better every day. The DeGol family and Scotch Valley’s commitment and devotion to high school golf with the use of the finest golf course in the area.”

Concerns: “Young, playing with inexperience.”

Overall outlook: “Young team which is willing to do the best they can do each and every day they are on the course and which will be competitive.”

Assistant coaches: Jill Hileman

Penn Cambria

Coach: Jacque Claar, fourth year

Last year’s record: 3-3

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Angel Trexler, sr.; Kayla Ringler, jr.; Jillian Latoche, jr.; Rachel Caretti, jr.

Newcomers: Marlie Krug, fr.; Allison Slebodnick, jr.

Strengths: “After seeing limited time last year, these girls are prepared to make their mark after losing several girls to graduation.”

Concerns: “Although most of the upperclass members have seen competition, it has been limited, so inexperience is a concern..”

Overall outlook: “We are hoping to see gradual improvement as the season goes on. These girls have shown huge improvement from freshmen to sophomores and expect to see even more this year. As the lone senior, we will expect Angel to guide the younger players.”

Philipsburg-Osceola

Coach: Steve Torquato, third year

Career record: 28-4

Last year’s record: 16-4

Conference: Mountain

Returning starters: Halle Herrington, sr.; Lindsey Bordas, jr.; Katie Lingle, jr.; Abby Lonjin, so.

Other returners: None

Newcomers: Harley Williams, so.; Sami Hardy, so.

Strengths: “Our team has a lot of heart. These girls practice very hard and set great, actionable, goals for themselves. It is their dedication to the game that makes them such a pleasure to work with. Also, having strong returners who work with the new girls creates a great team culture.”

Concerns: “Although not really a concern, a focus for our team this year is to continue to develop and grow each week. Each week I hope my athletes step on the course feeling more confident in their game and in themselves. ”

Overall outlook: “I have started each year excited for the season to begin, and this year is no exception. With a strong set of returners, and two talented new athletes confirmed, I think we have a bright future ahead of us as a team.”

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