A year ago, when the Central York golf team ended a run of five consecutive District 3 Class 3-A titles by Manheim Township, it looked like the Panthers were starting a run of their own in the team competition.
Central York returned all of the starting members of that 2016 district championship team for 2017, including Arizona recruit Joe Parrini and Carson Bacha, who burst onto the scene as a freshman.
So, when the Panthers teed it up on Wednesday, Oct. 4, to defend their district crown at Briarwood East Golf Course, it came with the added pressure of living up to expectations.
While Central's team score wasn't as low as 2016 score of 300, the Panthers were again good enough to hold off Manheim Township, winning with a four-player score of 307, four strokes better than the Blue Streaks, to successfully defend last year's championship.
"With all our guys returning from last year, our main goal was to get back to states this year," Panthers' head coach Sean Guerin said.
In order to qualify for team states, Central had to win districts first.
On a day when temperatures were relatively warm, but with a constant breeze, nobody went particularly low.
Bacha finished with the low score for the Panthers and tied for low round of the tournament, posting an even-par 72. Parrini had an off day by his own high standards, shooting 76, while Will Gekas posted 79 and freshman Jun Lee fired 80 as the four scores that counted toward Central's team total.
Both Bacha and Parrini had up-and-down rounds, with Bacha salvaging more out of his day. Despite struggling on the four par-5 holes, Bacha got after pins on the other 14 holes. He played most of his round under par, but a double-bogey on the par-5 ninth brought him back to even par, where he finished his day.
"It was very solid," Bacha said about his round. "I didn't play the par-5s as good as I wanted. I played them at 2-over, but other than that, it was a very solid round. It didn't play easy out there, so it felt pretty good."
As for Parrini, he never quite could get positive momentum going. Starting on No. 12, Parrini played his first seven holes in 2-over before making an eagle on the par-5 second to get back to level par. However, he instantly gave a stroke back on the next hole, eventually posting a 2-over 39 on the front side before finishing off a 2-over 37 on the back.
Gekas fired a 40 on the front side and 39 on the back to finish off his 79, while Lee's 80 was a low enough to count toward Central's team score.
"We started a freshman this year, Jun Lee, Julianne's brother," Guerin said. "He averaged 75 for us all year and it felt like he was that missing link to our five-man rotation in order to get it done in districts and possibly states. Will Gekas went out and shot 79 and last year he shot 79 (Wednesday). Obviously, he's improved this year, but it was tough out there when the wind picked up, so for him to gut it out is growth on his part."
The Panthers will head to states to compete in the team competition on Wednesday, Oct. 25, when they will look to improve on last year's third-place finish. Heritage Hills Golf Resort will again play host to the state tournament.
Class 2-A tournament: In the 2-A tournament, first-time participant Brandywine Heights took home the team title with a score of 346.
That score was eight strokes better than runner-up York Catholic, which finished with a 354 total.
Jon Giambalvo was the low man for the Fighting Irish, shooting a 79. Russ McPaul shot 81, Ben Andrasi had a 95 and Max Kile's 99 counted toward the team total.
Despite Giambalvo and McPaul both having lower scores than Brandywine Heights' lowest man, York Catholic didn't quite have the depth that the champions showed.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org