Boys golf team shows promise for the future

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Dominic DiTommaso

Led by sophomore Joey Miller, the 2021 Shaler boys golf team ended the season with a 4-8 record and exceeded most expectations heading into the year.

“I was not sure what to expect for the season to be honest,” coach Chris Catanese said. “With some of the biggest schools in the WPIAL in our section, I knew winning matches would be difficult. With that said, we were very competitive within our section this season.”

The Titans’ first section win came in their third match of the season in early September, against then-undefeated Butler at Butler Country Club. The match ended with a two-hole playoff that saw Miller and freshman Jacob Crissman defeat their opponents. Later that month, Shaler beat North Allegheny 200-214, a match that Catanese described as the Titans’ “best effort of the season”, after losing to the Tigers a few weeks prior.

“I believe [our 4-8 record] is an accurate representation of our level of experience and ability at this time,” Catanese said. “My guess is if you asked the coaches of the other teams before the season they would have had us at 2-10.”

With some of the biggest schools in the WPIAL in our section, I knew winning matches would be difficult. With that said, we were very competitive within our section this season.”

— Mr. Chris Catanese

Catanese, as well as assistant coach Brad Stone, completed their first year in charge of the golf team after being hired shortly before the season began. Because of the late hire, Catanese said the two had to “hit the ground running.”

Helping the new coaches was Miller, who led the team in stroke average and most statistical categories. At Shannopin Country Club, Miller became the first golfer in Shaler history to win the Section Championship by five shots. Posting a score of 71, Miller was in front of Crissman and sophomore Jake Kunc, who both barely missed qualifying for the WPIAL Semifinal. Kunc missed by one shot and Crissman by two.

Looking ahead to next year, Catanese says that his players have what it takes to bring the team even further.

“The team that returns next year should be very competitive in the section,” Catanese said. “We had 3-4 first year golfers competing in the starting line-up and their experience should really pay dividends next season. The returning group loves the game and understands what it takes to improve for next season. If a player or two can step up we could make a run at the WPIAL Team playoffs. With a full season under our belts next year should yield improvement now that the players know the expectations.”