Stand­ing Tall

Rustin’s Shevlin over­comes sco­l­io­sis to qual­ify for re­gion­als

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Thomas Nash tnash@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Thomas_Nash10 on Twitter

Try­ing to get a visual of the green from the fair­way on No. 14, Luke Shevlin jumped straight up as high as he could, his pitch­ing wedge still in-hand.

That brief mo­ment served as a true tes­ta­ment to the jump the West Ch­ester Rustin se­nior has made, both as a player and as a per­son, over the past year.

Nearly 13 months after un­der­go­ing a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure to help cure the sco­l­io­sis in his back, Shevlin was right in the heart of the Dis­trict 1 boys golf Cham­pi­onship, which con­cluded on Tues­day af­ter­noon at Tur­tle Creek Golf Course.

“It’s meant ev­ery­thing just to be here,” said Shevlin Tues­day. “I wasn’t sure how long I would be out or even how well I’d be able to play golf again.”

Aside from the first two weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son, Shevlin was forced to miss all of last year dur­ing his re­cov­ery pe­riod.

Dur­ing that time, he sat. He watched. He waited.

“That was tough,” he ad­mit­ted. “I tried to con­vince the doc­tors to put it off un­til after the sea­son, but I couldn’t pull it off.” Now Shevlin’s back. It’s bet­ter than ever. With 24 screws and two rods in

his back and a two-foot scar to show for it, Shevlin thrust him­self right into the talk of the tour­na­ment, post­ing a 2-un­der 70 on Day 1 to hold the open­ing round lead at Tur­tle Creek Golf Course on Mon­day.

Safe to say, plenty were ask­ing them­selves “Who?” upon reading his name atop the day one leader­board.

“No one re­ally knows who I am,” he said. “I hadn’t been able to play many high-level AJGA (Amer­i­can Ju­nior Golf As­so­ci­a­tion) events be­cause of all of this. No­body re­ally ex­pected any­thing from me.”

Shevlin fin­ished tied for sev­enth at the con­clu­sion of Day 2, good enough to sep­a­rate him­self from the field of 110 play­ers and earn a berth at next week’s Re­gional Tour­na­ment at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleet­wood.

“Mon­day was prob­a­bly the best round I’ve ever played,” said Shevlin of his score Day 1. “I played great the first nine to­day, but kind of came apart on the back. I don’t know if it was the pres­sure — all the peo­ple watch­ing — but I thought I held my own.”

Ad­mit­tedly, the big­gest ad­just­ment in Shevlin’s game has been his dis­tance off the tee. Since the surgery, he’s lost a few yards off his drive and doesn’t have the same range of mo­tion he did in years past.

He also ad­mits, though, his big­gest ad­just­ment since the pro­ce­dure has been his ap­proach on life.

“This whole thing has changed who I am as a per­son,” he said. “I’m men­tally stronger now be­cause of it. It was by far the tough­est thing I’ve ever gone through.”

His tough­ness was on dis­play through­out plenty of the sea­son. Just ask Rustin head coach Joe Paris.

“When we got Luke back this sea­son, he brought a whole new el­e­ment to our team,” said Paris. “That’s the kind of leader and cap­tain he is. He’s an un­be­liev­able player. He doesn’t lead with his words much, he just goes out there and plays lights-out.

“We were so ex­cited to have him back this sea­son.”

With the Re­gional Tour­na­ment loom­ing and the po­ten­tial of play­ing at states on the line, Shevlin could be a long way away from the sea­son’s end.

At this point, it’s pretty clear there isn’t much that will hold him back.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST MEDIA

Bishop Shana­han’s Ryan Con­ners watches his shot on the 17th tee Tues­day at Tur­tle Creek. Con­ners fin­ished just one shot be­hind win­ner Ben Po­chet of Spring-Ford.

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