Conestoga’s Yao captures regional title
Four to York: Montgomery, Shevlin, Gianelos, Conners all make states
FLEETWOOD >> With the cut looming at 76 during Monday’s PIAA East Regional at Golden Oaks Golf Club, Bishop Shanahan’s Ryan Conners found himself in a one-hole playoff with five players vying for four spots.
Conners birdied No. 18, giving him satisfaction for a round where he admits he left a few out there.
“That was my finishing hole, so it was still really fresh in my mind,” he said of No. 18, which he parred about an hour prior to the playoff. “I knew what I wanted to do this time around.”
Conners is one of 24 golfers who advanced from the East Region to the PIAA Championships, slated to
begin Monday at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.
He will be joined in York by regional champion Ben Pochet of Spring-Ford, who fired an incredible 5-under-par 67 to take medalist honors, as well as three fellow Ches-Mont League golfers: Downingtown East’s Wills Montgomery (71), West Chester Rustin’s Luke Shevlin (73) and Unionville’s Nick Gianelos (74).
After posting a four-over 40 on the frontside, Conners opened the backside with three birdies on the first four holes. He hit 16 greens and regulation.
“I doubled No. 9,” he said, “so when I turned the corner here (at the clubhouse), I knew the next three, four holes on the back nine were gettable. Things just clicked.”
As for Pochet, there wasn’t much that could slow him down Monday.
Not the undulated greens or the tricky speeds at Golden Oaks. Not the treacherous pin locations scattered throughout the course. Not even when he stuck his tee shot onto another green.
“In years past, my goal has always been to just make the cut here, that’s it,” said Pochet. “Today was no different. As the round went on, my confidence went up.”
“I was hitting the ball great at districts and really over the last week,” he said. “I felt ready for this one.”
Spring-Ford coach Jeff Mast explained that Pochet’s successful postseason run comes right on the heels of a successful regular season.
“Nothing he does surprises me anymore,” said Mast. “In the beginning of the season, one of our goals was to play our best golf at the end of the season. That certainly seems to be the case with Ben.”
Behind Pochet, Pope John Paul II junior JT Spina finished tied for second with Manheim Township’s Sam Beauregard at 2-under 70. Montgomery followed right behind with a 1-under 71 to finish tied for fourth.
As for Shevlin, just over a year removed from a surgical procedure to help cure the scoliosis in his back, the Rustin senior is exceeding anything he’s previously done in his high school career. After sitting out his junior season during the recovery period, Shevlin is back at it fullforce this year.
“This means a lot for me,” he said. “I never even made it past Ches-Monts before this season, so everything I’ve done so far this year really means a lot.
“I’m still working my way back to full-strength. All season, our matches are just nine holes, so to come out and play 18 — it gets tough. All the adrenaline, though, it gets me through.”
The senior kept a clean scorecard on the frontside with nine pars while he had two bogeys and a birdie on the back nine.
Unionville’s Gianelos tied for 16th with a 2-over 74.
Devon’s Donato Does It
In the 2A field, Devon Prep’s Bryan Donato became the first golfer from his school to ever qualify for the PIAA Championships when he shot a 3-over round of 75 at Golden Oaks. That was good enough to tie for third and be safely in the top 14.
Conestoga’s Samantha Yao hits from the fairway on No. 18 Monday during the PIAA East Region Golf Championships at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleetwood.