Girls rule at Herald-Tamie Junior Golf tourney

By LYNN SATERNOW Herald Sports Editor

Jun 15, 2019

History was made at the 71st annual Herald-Tam O’Shanter Junior Golf Championships Friday, but not in the way many people expected.

Four-time champion Conner Stevens was favored to win a record 5th crown, but didn’t compete because of personal reasons. That opened the door for an even more historic moment:

Girls finished first and second, the only time females have finished in either spot since the tourney was founded in 1949.

Hickory High junior Leah Benson posted 75-83–158 to win the cherished champions trophy and Hermitage 8th grader Alexandra Petrachko was runner-up with 88-80–168.

“It’s awesome,” said Leah, who said it “ranks right up there” with being part of the Hickory High girls golf team that qualified for the PIAA State Tournament last season for the first time ever. “Both were enthralling.”

“It’s crazy,” continued Leah, who was the top girl finisher last year. “My goal coming in was to keep low on the radar and play my game and just have a couple of good rounds. I was a little nervous today (leading by 6 strokes after the opening round Thursday). I felt the pressure, but I tried not to get too carried away and just play my game.”

Alexandra pointed out: “I felt about the same as her, I just wanted to play the best I could. I didn’t play my best yesterday, but I played better today.”

It was a big day for girls, as third place went to Hickory’s McKenzie Gustas with 89-82–171. Leah said she is looking forward to two years from now when Alexandra can join McKenzie and her on the Hickory team and make another run at a state title.

Other scores were: David Dennis, 88-85–173; Ryan Knott, 81-85–174; Conner Evans, 94-97–191. Cameron Colbert was forced to withdraw when he contracted strep throat after the opening round.

“It was a history day, pretty cool,” said Tam O’Shanter Director of Golf John Kerins, pointing out that the institution of the PGA rule allowing girls to play at 85 percent length on holes as compared to boys makes an impact.

“It’s a good rule and the way it should be,” said Herald Publisher Sharon Sorg, beaming at the thought of girls finishing at the top of the tournament. After all, she is the first female publisher at The Herald that’s history dates back more than a century and a half.

“This is great for girls golf,” said Kerins. “I think Shelley Sanders (who went on to a pro career) finished third once. But what an opportunity for girls to go to college on scholarships to play golf.

“The numbers were down this year, but the competitiveness and sportsmanship were still there.”

NOTES: Leah, who started playing in tournaments at the age of 11 or 12, is the daughter of Ed and Gina Benson and takes lessons from Scott Bradley at Hidden Oaks. Alexandra, who began tourney competition at age 8 or 9, is a daughter of Constantine and Jana Petrachko and trains at Avalon Lakes.


Herald-Tamie  Champions

2019 – Leah Benson

2018 – Conner Stevens

2017 – Conner Stevens

2016 – Conner Stevens

2015 – Conner Stevens

2014 – Jacob Wilson

2013 — Billy Colbert

2012 — Billy Colbert

2011 — Billy Colbert

2010 — Dante Vetica

2009 — Dante Vetica

2008 — Eric Grasso

2007 — Michael Klaric III

2006 — Michael Klaric III

2005 — Ryan Miller

2004 — Steve Killa

2003 — Michael Klaric III

2002 — Michael Klaric III

2001 — David Gibb

2000 — John Matune

1999 — Mike Kasula

1998 — Mike Kasula

1997 — Pete Sirianni Jr.

1996 — Pete Sirianni Jr.

1995 — Matt Kolbrich

1994 — Phil Puleo

1993 — Lew Rosa

1992 — Lew Rosa

1991 — Paul Reichard

1990 — Robert Liptak

1989 — Josh Galicia

1988 — Brent Blaus

1987 — Brent Blaus

1986 — Jim Wassil

1985 — Andy Wagner

1984 — Dave Chuba

1983 — Dave Chuba

1982 — Scott Gladysz

1981 — Dave Chuba

1980 — Mark Alexander

1979 — Ed Zebroski

1978 — Dennis Dolci

1977 — Rich Volansky

1976 — Dennis Dolci

1975 — Jim Kirsch

1974 — John Kerins

1973 — John Zebroski

1972 — John Zebroski

1971 — Lynn Jones

1970 — Nick Dzurinda

1969 — Andy Klutcher

1968 — Eddie Wells

1967 — Andy Klutcher

1966 — Howard Bolotin

1965 — Joe Thiel

1964 — Jim Wildman

1963 — Bob Thomas

1962 — Bob Thomas

1961 — Bob Thomas

1960 — Johnny Kahl

1959 — Ron Kurtz

1958 — Lou Rotunno

1957 — Mickey Alexander

1956 — Pat Wildman

1955 — Dave Gingold

1954 — Bud Swogger

1953 — Bill Rielly

1952 — Pat Rielly

1951 — Pat Rielly

1950 — Bob Savko

1949 — Bob Wise

Shenango River Watchers: Rick Kerins and “A Course of Action” By Becki Clemetson

“Right in our backyard is one of the most Environmentally friendly and Award Winning golf courses in the country, Tam O Shanter PA. Richard Kerins is among the elite group of Certified Golf Course Superintendents qualifying Tam O’Shanter Golf Course as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Mr. Kerins uses his vast knowledge of the environment and the animals that call it home to make the most responsible decisions possible.”

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