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North Allegheny’s Wrigley claims 3rd straight WPIAL girls golf title

October 4, 2018
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North Catholic's Maddie Smithco watches her shot from a bunker on Hole 16 during the WPIAL Class AA girls golf championship Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, at Diamond Run Golf Club.

North Allegheny senior Caroline Wrigley knew she was chasing WPIAL history. But the real goal here was to have something to tell Uncle Frank.

Wrigley completed a WPIAL three-peat Wednesday, the same feat her uncle, Frank Fuhrer III, accomplished while playing at Fox Chapel from 1974-76. He went on to play at North Carolina and became one of the country’s top amateurs.

Wrigley gathered strength from the family connection.

“It’s really cool to be able to carry on that legacy,” said Wrigley, a Furman recruit. “I took it one shot at a time. I didn’t look at my score and didn’t try to get ahead of myself. Every shot I hit, I had a purpose for it.”

Wrigley became the first girl in 32 years to win three consecutive WPIAL golf championships as she carved up a four-shot victory in the Class AAA tournament at Diamond Run Golf Club in Ohio Township.

Wrigley shot a 1-under-par 71, becoming the first to accomplish a three-peat since Jodi Figley of Hopewell won four straight from 1983-86.

Upper St. Clair’s Missy Berteotti won three titles in a row from 1977-80.

North Catholic junior Maddie Smithco, meantime, became her school’s first WPIAL girls golf champion as she edged defending champion and close friend Tatum McKelvey of Sewickley Academy to take the Class AA title.

Greensburg Central Catholic freshman Ella Zambruno and Geibel sophomore Caroline Konieczny needed a playoff to decide the ninth spot. Konieczny advanced by winning the third extra hole.

Other Class AA qualifiers were Brownsville sophomore Lindsay Sethman (82), Greensburg Central Catholic senior Abby Zambruno (83) and freshman Meghan Zambruno (85), junior Zoe Luther of Sewickley Academy (86) and Central Valley senior Kiaria Porter (88).

Smithco, the defending PIAA champion, shot 74 for a one-shot victory. Last year, McKelvey beat Smithco by one shot to win the title.

“We always go back and forth all summer,” Smithco said. “She’s a great player, and I love her game. She is really good under pressure.”

Wrigley is 6-under at the district finals the last two years. She shot 5-under 67 to win last year at Diamond Run. She bogeyed the 18th hole both times.

Wrigley had it to 2-under at one point Wednesday.

“I had a solid day,” Wrigley said. “I wasn’t doing anything crazy. I wanted to beat that 67, but after talking to my coach I knew that wasn’t a good goal because it’s a completely different course this year. It’s set up different, different pins and conditions.”

North Allegheny coach Mike Hambrick said Wrigley is one of the most prepared players in the WPIAL. But he knows she held off some talented players to win her third title.

“It’s amazing due to the fact there were girls here who could play. It wasn’t handed to her, and she worked for it,” Hambrick said. “She does all the little things it takes to be great.”

Wrigley, who made four birdies and three bogeys, said her approach shots were the key to her third title. She only missed three greens in regulation.

It could be a testament to her endless practice at home. She has a golf simulator in her house and has three synthetic-grass greens in her yard to which she can hit 80-yard pitch shots and for sharpening her putting.

McKelvey, a senior, had a one-shot lead through 10 holes, but the lead changed hands three times before Smithco went ahead with a par on the par-5 17th.

Smithco parred the final eight holes and was playing with confidence.

“It feels great to help get the school’s name out there,” Smithco said of NC’s maiden win. “I couldn’t really miss a tee shot. I was hitting it straight down the middle. I was shooting for the middle of the greens all day, and it worked for the most part.”

McKelvey said her chances slipped away on 17 when she made a bogey six.

“My short game let me down,” she said. “I hit fairways and greens, but my chipping got me at the end. This motivates me for states.”

Smithco handled well the quickened greens which, several players said, were much faster than they were last year.

“My putter, for the first time in a while, was really on,” Smithco said. “My entire game was on. The greens were fast so if you left it in the wrong place you were in trouble.”

Defending PIAA Class AAA champion Lauren Freyvogel of Pine-Richland tied for eighth with an 81. Carmichaels sophomore Remmy Lohr finished third in Class AA with the same score.

Two freshmen were next on the Class AAA leaderboard. Lindsey Powanda of Mt. Lebanon took second with a 75, and Caroline McConnell of South Fayette finished in a three-way tie for third at 77.

Uniontown senior Danae Rugola and Oakland Catholic senior Jessica Meyers, a Notre Dame recruit, also shot 77. Meyers is the sister of Central Catholic senior and Penn State recruit Jimmy Meyers, who won the WPIAL boys Class AAA title Wednesday morning at Oakmont.

The top seven Class AAA finishers and top nine from Class AA advance to the PIAA Western Regional tournament Oct. 15 at Tom’s Run Golf Course in Blairsville.

Other Class AAA qualifiers were junior Sara Steve of Upper St. Clair (79) and Moon sophomore Rhianna Firmstrone (80).

North Allegheny senior Christina Lewis shot 82 to tie for eighth.

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