For the first time in several years, there will be no golfers from the Mirror's coverage area competing at the PIAA Western Regional at Tom's Run in Blairsville who have PIAA Championship experience.
That doesn't mean there aren't big goals and aspirations.
District 6 Class AA champion Max Kirsch, a senior at Central Cambria, has set a goal to win the state championship. First he'll need to finish in the top 20 out of 42 golfers in Class AA today when play begins at 9 a.m.
Mirror photo by J.D.?Cavrich
Central Cambria senior Max Kirsch has averaged a 72.4 score this season.
A year ago, Kirsch played a practice round the Saturday before regionals and shot 1-over par but slipped to an 84 in the one-day event to finish tied for 34th. Kirsch three-putted his second hole that day.
"Playing in it last year is definitely going to help me," Kirsch said. "I'm going to just keep playing and take one shot at a time and not let a bad hole get into my head."
Kirsch said he thinks the cut will be around 78 or 79. His scoring average for the season is 72.4.
"I just need to keep the ball in play," Kirsch said. "Last year, I hit it everywhere."
Whether he qualifies as an individual or not, Kirsch already knows he'll be competing at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York at the state championships. His team, Central Cambria, qualified for the championship by beating District 5 champion Conemaugh Township Friday at Scotch Valley.
"It takes some pressure off, and it's pretty awesome to be going as a team," Kirsch said. "We definitely have a chance at winning."
Though there will be no area golfers in the Class AAA section of the Western Regional, several others will be competing in Class AA.
Northern Cambria senior Tyler Tiesi and Claysburg-Kimmel junior Tyler Brown qualified out of District 6. Both will be playing in the Western Regional for the first time.
"I'll just try to stick to my game and keep the ball in play," Tiesi said. "I am hoping for a good day with my driver. It would be an awesome opportunity and it would be really cool to make it to states."
Tiesi shot a 74 on the first day of districts but fell back to 83 the second day.
"As long as he can stay consistent with his game and know when and where to use the right clubs, he'll be fine," Northern Cambria coach T.J. Mullen said.
A pair of area boys from District 5 will be playing this morning but not the district champion.
Northern Bedford's J.J. McCabe and Everett's Kyle Walters will compete, but Northern Bedford's Jake Frederick, who won the district title, will not play.
McCabe made it to the Western Regional a year ago but shot an 85 and finished tied for 38th.
"There's no doubt that over the past two summers [McCabe] has worked really hard to improve his game on the North East Junior Tour," Northern Bedford coach Gene Snyder said. "He's worked hard in tournament conditions, and it's definitely helped his game."
Three area girls will be competing in the Class AA level.
Two-time District 5 champion Logan Brallier, a junior at Everett, has competed at regionals twice but has never advanced. Brallier will give it another shot this year along with the girl who defeated her for the District 5 title this season, Bedford's Kourtney Mortimer.
The final qualifier is Cambria Heights' Morgan Spaid, who won a playoff for the final Class AA spot in District 6 Thursday at the Penn State White Course.