In the program's history, the Central York golf team had never even made it to the PIAA Boys' Class 3-A State Championship until this year.
That, in itself, was a feat.
Still, head coach Sean Guerin and the players felt they had as good a chance as any to capture the state title. So, when the Panthers wound up taking third place overall with a four-player team score of 307 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort on Wednesday, there was reason to be disappointed.
"It's a little disappointing to come up a little bit short at the end," Guerin said. "But, like you said, the third-best team in the state, man, that's quite an accomplishment for these young kids."
Central wound up finishing 10 strokes back of champion Pittsburgh Central Catholic, which shot a 297, while Nazareth just edged out the Panthers for second with a score of 306.
Central got a boost from its top player, junior Joe Parrini, who went out and fired a 1-under 70, the only player to break par on the day. Parrini had three birdies and two pars on his round, including making a pair of 3s on the par-4 10th and par-4 13th. He nearly added a fourth birdie to his card on the difficult finishing hole, the par-4 18th, but left his 15-foot putt just inches short in the heart of the cup.
"I was just finding more greens and just keeping the golf course in front of me," he said. "Really, I didn't make too many mistakes. I had three birdies and two bogeys, so it was a pretty steady, consistent round."
Julianne Lee had the team's second-best score, shooting a 2-over 73, while freshman Carson Bacha posted an 8-over 79 for the team's third-best score. Will Gekas' 85 was the team's final score that counted to the team total.
The conditions for Wednesday's team tournament were better than during Monday's and Tuesday's individual championships, when it was cold and windy. However, Wednesday saw temperatures in the low 50s with very little wind, while most of the tees were pushed up, shortening the course and leading to several good scoring holes.
"The conditions were perfect out here for scoring," Parrini said. "It was a little cold at times, but, really, it was prime conditions for scoring."
Stellar season: The third-place finish for the Panthers was the end result of a dominant year on the course. Central was nearly perfect in York-Adams League Division I play, losing just one match, and then went on a roll in the postseason. The Panthers cruised to the York-Adams League team title and then ended Manheim Township's long District 3 3-A championship run by winning the program's first district crown. Along the way, both Parrini and Lee won the individual league and District 3 titles, while Central, as a whole, sent four players to the individual regional tournament and qualified three for this week's individual state competition. Bacha wound up capturing fifth individually among 3-A boys, while Lee took home third in the girls' tournament.
This year's results for the Panthers don't look to be a one-and-done situation, either. If there's anything that other teams in the state should be worried about, it's the fact that all five members who competed for Central in the team tournament on Wednesday are expected to return.
That is something Guerin is looking forward to next season.
"We have this whole team returning next year," he said. "It can be a learning process for us (to) see what we can do next year, learn from it and maybe do better next year."
Other state champions: In the 2-A boys' tournament, Lancaster Catholic won the title with a team score of 309, beating Sewickley Academy by 10 strokes.
In the girls' 3-A event, Shady Side Academy's team score of 330 was good enough to beat North Allegheny by eight strokes to win the championship.
In the girls' 2-A tournament, Central Valley took home first place with a 368 team score, edging Greensburg Central Catholic by a stroke.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org