NORTHERN LEBANON – For Palmyra, it took four personal bests to end a decade-lone drought.
For Ben Feeman, the performance was just as impressive, but a little more immediate.
On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon at the 5,734-yard, par-72 Pine Meadows layout, Feeman and the Cougars were the big winners during the annual contesting of the Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championships. Feeman, a junior out of Cedar Crest, fired an even-par round of 72 to nudge Palmyra sophomore Sean Kelly by two strokes to capture the individual title for the second straight year.
But Kelly discovered a silver lining by leading Palmyra to its first team championship since 2011. Annville-Cleona’s Simon Domencic, the runner-up in 2020, finished third individually with a three-over par score of 75.
Cedar Crest’s Jill Fidler carded an 86 to win the Lebanon County Scholastic Golf girls’ title for the second straight year.
“I don’t think last year had much to do with it,” said Feeman. “I played much better this year. I’ve gotten way better. I have a lot of confidence from playing a lot of tournaments.
“It’s always cool to win anything,” added Feeman. “It’s not the toughest tournament. But there are a lot of good players and it can get really competitive out there.”
“Everybody showed up today,” said Palmyra head coach Tim Refi of his performers. “It’s a nice course and the greens were in excellent shape. For the kids to put up those types of numbers, it’s a credit to them. Driving here I told the kids, ‘If you shoot the way you can shoot, we can take this.’
“Kevin’s (Dromgoole) probably our most consistent golfer,” Refi added. “He’s going to shoot 85 or 86 ever time out. Trey (Hilbert) and Sean have been our workhorses. For Sean to shoot 74, it’s unexpected but easily understandable. He certainly has the game.”
In addition to Kelly’s 74, Hilbert fired an 80 and Dromgoole posted an 85. That 85 was easily the lowest score recorded by any team’s third ‘counter’.
All three totals were personal bests.
Palmyra’s team score of 239 was five shots better than runner-up Annville-Cleona’s total of 244. Cedar Crest was third with 246 team strokes, followed by Northern Lebanon, Elco and Lebanon.
“For us, being in the Mid-Penn (Conference) we don’t know a whole lot about the Lebanon County teams,” said Refi. “From last year’s tournament, we knew there were some really good golfers in the county, especially from Annville-Cleona and Cedar Crest. We have a really nice one-two-three punch. If we could’ve counted three scorers during the regular season, we would’ve won the championship in our division (of the Mid-Peen Conference).
“It’s a nice, end-of-the-year tournament,” continued Refi. “It’s a good way to finish the season, or a good way to prepare for the postseason. For Trey and Sean, it’s a good way to fine tune their games for districts (this weekend in York). I definitely look forward to bringing the kids here every year and competing against the other Lebanon County schools.”
For Feeman, the championship was a bit dramatic in that he eagled his final hole – the 444-yard, par-five sixth hole – to edge Kelly by two shots. Most of the afternoon, the two were engaged in a tense battle in the lead group, before Feeman put together his strong finish.
“I was pretty confident it was between Sean and I,” said Feeman. “I didn’t know his score and I didn’t look. At the end, I wasn’t sure if I won. But I pretty much knew it was a battle between us two.
“I figured I won, but I wasn’t positive where I was at,” Feeman continued. “I wanted to stay aggressive just in case.”
After a somewhat sluggish start led to a 40 over his first nine holes, Feeman was four-under par over his last four holes. In addition to the eagle at Number Six, Feeman rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt at the 365-yard, par-four third hole and then two-putted for bird at the 471-yard, par-five fifth hole.
“I played pretty good,” said Feeman. “I wasn’t real happy with my front-nine. I knew I had to be aggressive, just make more birdies. I knew I was trailing early.”
Sean Kelly 74, Trey Hilbert 80, Kevin Dromgoole 85, Alexa Knapp 101
Regan Flynn 79, Simon Domencic 75, Cash Anspach 90, Wesley Heller 91
Ben Feeman 72, Jill Fidler 86, Ethan Rader 96, Dayton DiBiaso 88
Peyton Wolfe 85, Luke Dresch 89, Alex DeMackeiwz 110, Vinny Battistelli 107
Cole Weaver 88, Tyler Reed 103, Bryan Auker 99, Connor Brown 99
Olivia Bartal 104, Julia Campbell 106, Freddy Batiz-Garcia 135, Mason Bender 135