Perseverance, young talent makes Hampton golf a winning program
The Hampton golf team has been a fixture in the WPIAL postseason over the past five years. If the team keeps getting stellar efforts from its underclassmen, that won’t change.
The team is off to a hot start, going 6-2 overall and 4-0 in Section 8-AAA while it hunts a third section title in four years.
A model for the Talbots’ success is Cal Cummins.
As a freshman, Cummins was shooting around 120 per round and didn’t make the cut. But when a JV player quit, coach Bruce Steckel offered him the last spot on the team.
Cummins jumped at the chance.
Fast forward two years later, he’s one of the top varsity golfers on a playoff contender, shooting in the mid-70′s.
“This is the reason that I coach,” Steckel said. “For kids like this who, if you can influence them or turn them around ... he really wanted to play golf and he put his head to it. He’s one of my success stories.”
Cummins insists there was no magic formula, just a lot of time on the course and at the range. He also is embracing a leadership role as the lone senior.
“I remember when I was a freshman,” he said. “The seniors were so good to me. It was something that was really important to me, and I wanted to do the same. I’ve become really close with all the underclassmen.”
Sophomore Matthew Rozumberka, whom Steckel calls an “excellent young golfer,” is holding down the top spot and averaging 37 strokes per nine holes.
“He’s a good player and fun to watch,” Cummins said. “He has a lot of potential because he’s just so young.”
Juniors Harry Hamlin and Brendan Erka are playing solid golf in the low 40′s. Freshman Jake Twerdok made noise at tryouts and worked his way on the varsity squad. Steckel thinks he could be a bigger factor as he adapts to the new course layouts.
“He shows up for tryouts,” Steckel said, “and the only one who actually beat him is Matthew. He’s going to be one of those kids coming up. ... He’s small and doesn’t hit the ball far yet, but he’s going to be a good one.”
If Cummins’ journey is one example of Hampton’s continued success, another would be its ability to field quality girls golfers considering the school has no girls team.
Former WPIAL champion Marissa Balish, a junior at Ohio University, captained the team to the WPIAL championships in 2015.
Sophomore Arianna Erka is hoping for similar success. As a varsity regular, she has shown potential.
The team will look to upend reigning section champion Shady Side Academy, a team Hampton frequently battles for Section 8 supremacy. Both teams have made the playoffs since 2012.
“I know we all can play well,” Cummins said. “So, if we all put together a good round against them, I know we can beat anyone in the section.”