BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – It’s a one-day event. And in golf, perhaps more than in any other sport – anything can happen.
Northern Lebanon junior Luke Spangler and the Annville-Cleona Little Dutchmen are just two of the reasons to tee it up.
A warm Tuesday afternoon at 5,734-yard, par-72 Pine Meadows – during the annual contesting of the Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Tournament – was a day for the underdogs and little guys. Spangler edged Palmyra’s Brandon Shirk in a one-hole, sudden-death playoff for the individual crown, while Annville-Cleona was the surprise winner of the team competition.
Spangler sank a ten-foot par putt on the 394-yard, par-four first hole to win it, after he and Shirk had completed their rounds with matching 76s. Cedar Crest’s Nolan Hoover and Lebanon Catholic’s Mark Gates finished in a tie for third place with identical 78s.
For the Little Dutchmen, Jeremy Seyfert and Ian Stanchik posted critical scores of 80 and 81, respectively, and they teammed with defending individual champion Simon Domencic to record the low team score of 251. That was three shots better than runner-up Palmyra and ten lower than Cedar Crest’s 261.
Northern Lebanon finished fourth among teams, while Elco was fifth, Lebanon Catholic sixth and Lebanon High seventh.
Jill Fidler of Cedar Crest was crowned the Lebanon County girls’ individual champion.
“With golf, I don’t know if I ever expect anything,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Dean Metzgar. “There are so many variables, when it comes to golf. Our kids are capable, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. We’re excited. We’re definitely pumped to win it.
“For us, in an individual sport, it’s a big deal because we got it as a team,” continued Metzgar. “I like the team aspect of it. I like to play the teams in the county. It feels good to finally get a win. For our season, it puts an exclamation point on it.”
“It’s really exciting,” said Spangler, who averaged 80.33 strokes per round during the regular season. “It’s nice to play well in this tournament. I shot a 75 at the league (Lancaster-Lebanon) tournament at Foxchase. I’d been playing well recently and I just tried to carry it through.”
While Spangler officially captured the championship with his ten-foot par putt, it was his previous attempt – a scalded four-iron under trees and into the back of Number One’s green – that was the shot of the tournament. After blading his sand wedge on the 100-yard approach shot over the green, Spangler’s recovering punch-and-run set him up for victory.
“I was in the trees, so I couldn’t play a high shot,” said Spangler, of the crucial turn of events. “I used a four-iron into the green. It was pretty good. I practice that a little. I was happy with how it turned out.
“He (Shirk) putted first and missed,” Spangler continued. “I played it on the right edge of the cup (on his putt). I made sure I got it to the hole. I wanted to give myself an opportunity. But Brandon played well today.”
“That was crazy,” said Shirk of Spangler’s recovery. “I was surprised it stayed on the green.
“I hit a bad drive and had about 110 yards in,” added Shirk. “I thought I hit a good shot, but it was short. And I thought I made the putt.”
During regulation, Spangler and Shirk were paired with Hoover and Domencic in the lead group. And for a while, it seemed that Shirk and Hoover were passing the lead back and forth.
Perhaps partly due to nerves, Spangler was three over par over his first six holes. But he settled in and was just one-over par over his final 12 holes, which included a 20-foot birdie putt at the 471-yard, par-five fifth hole.
“I started off rough, with a lot of bogeys,” said Spangler. “But I played better later. At the beginning, there were nerves. At the end, I was more comfortable.”
“It was a pretty relaxed round,” said Shirk. “I knew he (Spangler), Nolan and I were going back and forth. I thought it was going to come down to us three.”
Shirk was even with par through six holes. But thanks in part to a double bogey at the par-five 18th hole, he was six-over par during his final dozen.
“I could’ve played a lot better,” said Shirk. “I missed a few putts. I left a lot of strokes out there.
“I wanted to win,” continued Shirk. “I thought I definitely had a good chance. My game is at a good spot right now.”
“At the beginning, Nolan and Brandon were going back and forth, shot for shot,” said Spangler. “I got mine going at about my 14th or 15th hole. Before that, I was hovering. They both lost some shots, and that gave me some momentum.”
Hoover birdied his opening hole – the 172-yard, par-three seventh hole – and was one-under par over his first six holes. But he was forced to take three double-bogeys over his next eight holes.
“A couple of players from other teams had off days,” said Metzgar. “It helped us make up ground. Throughout the year, our kids were consistent. I could expect a score in the mid-80s from everyone on our team. Everyone was right around the same average. Today, two of them (Seyfert and Stefanchik) shot under their averages.
“It’s easy to say and hard to do, but I always tell them (his players), ‘Focus on the shots and not the numbers,'” Metzgar added. ” “Never get down on yourself. Don’t quit.'”
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Annual Lebanon County Scholastic Golf Championship
(at 5,734-yard, par-72 Pine Meadows Golf Course)
Team and Invididual Results
Simon Domencic, Ian Stefanchik 81, Jerermy Seyfert 80, Cole Shertzer 101
Brandon Shrik, Quinton Leonard 85, Nate Stoner 93, Andrew Ward 104
Cedar Crest (261)
Nolan Hoover 78, Ben Feeman 90, Jill Fidler 88, Emma Dissinger 93, Kerrigan Klopp 98
Northern Lebanon (282)
Luke Spangler 76, Dominic Gattone 105, Cameron Stickler 101
Cole Weaver 101, Andrew Moyer 108, Trevor Spring 110, Ciarra Rosenberg 135
Lebanon Catholic (322)
Mark Gates 78, James Fenton 104, Braden Root 140
Naziah Eberhart 111, Olivia Bartal 118, Austin Drahovsky 122, Hunter Hetrick 112