HEISER: Central York golfers enjoying historic season
- Central York was 41-1 en route to winning the York-Adams Division I title.
- The Panthers went on to win the York-Adams League and District 3 3-A crowns.
- Central is one of six teams that will compete for the PIAA 3-A championship.
Over the past two months, York County sports fans have been witnesses to an historic high school season, and many of them probably aren't even aware of it.
Why is that?
Because the sport is golf.
Golf is often considered a niché activity, reserved mostly for upper-income folks who can afford the expensive equipment and greens fees.
Spectators are usually minimal, limited mostly to friends, family and coaches, even for York-Adams League, District 3 or PIAA events. There are no bands, no cheerleaders, no packed stands and certainly no Friday night lights.
That doesn't mean, however, that we should overlook a history-making season.
And make no mistake, the Central York Panthers' golf team is making some serious history under first-year head coach Sean Guerin.
In case you haven't been paying attention, here are just a few of the highlights from the Panthers' 2016 campaign.
League domination: The Panthers cruised to the York-Adams Division I championship with a near-perfect 41-1 record.
The Panthers' average team score was 301.9, or just 75.5 per golfer. They had six golfers with an average score in the 70s, led by junior Joe Parrini (71.0), junior Julianne Lee (72.0) and freshman Carson Bacha (73.7).
Central did all that despite competing week in and week out against a formidable Dallastown team that, in many other years, would have been a championship outfit.
The Panthers followed that up by cruising to the York-Adams League team title by a whopping 26 shots over Division III champion York Catholic. Parrini's 73, Bacha's 75 and Lee's 76 led the way during a miserable wet-and-windy day at Briarwood East Golf Club.
A few days later, back at Briarwood, but under much better weather conditions, Parrini rolled to the York-Adams 3-A individual title with a 69 on the East Course, six shots better than the nearest competitor.
Lee, meanwhile, captured her second straight 3-A girls' league crown with a 73 at Briarwood West to earn a two-shot victory.
District domination: When District 3 competition rolled around, Central proved it wasn't just a big fish in a small pond.
The Panthers won the 3-A team title, dethroning perennial champion Manheim Township by an impressive 13 strokes. Central became the first York County school to win a 3-A team golf title, ending Manheim Township's four-year run as 3-A champion.
In the individual District 3 event, the Panthers kept dominating.
Parrini shot rounds of 70 and 66 to win the 3-A boys' title by two shots at Briarwood East. Central's Matt Bricker finished fifth, while Bacha tied for sixth.
Lee, meanwhile, had rounds of 68 and 73 to take her second straight girls' 3-A championship by six shots at Briarwood West.
Moving on to states: Next came Monday's PIAA East Regional competition at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Berks County.
On the boys' side, Parrini tied for sixth in 3-A with a 72, while Bacha tied for 19th with a 75. In girls' action, Lee was fifth in 3-A with a 77.
All three advanced to the individual PIAA 3-A state competition, which will take place Monday and Tuesday right here in York County at Heritage Hills Golf Resort.
The Panthers will also compete in the 3-A team state competition at Heritage Hills on Wednesday, Oct. 26. They are one of just six teams still in the running for a state 3-A gold medal.
Given what they've accomplished thus far, it would not be surprising to see the Panthers excel on the state stage, both individually and as a team.
Will Gekas is expected to join Parrini, Lee, Bacha and Bricker in the team 3-A state finals. The Panthers will look to become the first York County school to capture a state team golf title since the state team tournament was started in 2006.
Individually, Parrini and Lee appear to have what it takes to win a state medal, maybe even gold. Parrini hasn't shot higher than 74 during the entire high school season, while Lee hasn't shot higher than 77. Parrini tied for ninth in last year's state event, while Lee was 13th, but both seem to have improved markedly in the last 12 months.
York County hasn't produced an individual girls' state champion since Spring Grove's Cimmie Shahan in 1998. That was the third of her three state titles. The last York County boys' state champion was Eastern York's Rod Crumbling way back in 1984.
It should help that all of the Central players will be able to sleep in their own beds next week and compete on a course they are all familiar with.
The PIAA will almost certainly “trick up" Heritage Hills to a degree to make it more challenging for the state's top players. But if recent history is any indication, the Panthers will be up for the challenge.
It should be fun to watch.
And here's something for Central's future opponents to chew on. None of Central's top-nine players are seniors. The 2017 Panthers' team will probably be even better.
Now that's really scary.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.