YARDLEY – When Vinay Ramesh (Princeton) and Jackie Rogowicz (Penn State) graduated from Pennsbury in June of 2015, Falcon coach Curtis May thought it might take a while before his team was competitive again.
Turns out a while might have only taken one season.
While Pennsbury struggled last year, finishing 8-8 in the Suburban One National League, the Falcons are currently 4-2 in their first six matches and have emerged victorious in their first three league pairings. On Wednesday (Aug. 31), Pennsbury topped league rival Bensalem by 86 strokes on their home course at Yardley Country Club. Yesterday (Sept. 1), again at home, the Falcons went out and dumped SOL Continental Conference rival Pennridge by 45 strokes.
As a team, Pennsbury broke 200 in both matchups.
“When we lost Vinay Ramesh and Jackie Rogowicz and a couple of others, I thought there might be slim pickings,” admitted Falcon head coach Curtis May. “But right now, I like what I see.”
May has five seniors and three sophomores in the lineup who are picking up the pieces at Pennsbury. Senior Ryan Kim is the most consistent of the bunch. He led the team with a low score of 36 in the Falcons’ win over Bensalem.
Then comes the sophomores – Chris Dul, Griffin Foll and Pat Laushell. Along with Kim, Dul was among the co-leaders with a 38 against Pennridge.
“I say the same thing that everyone else says about Chris – ‘he should be shooting par every time out.’
“He hits the ball a ton and he has all the skills. He just has to work on the mental aspects of his game.
“He is just a solid player and I have high hopes for him.”
Meanwhile, Foll and Laushell both broke into the 30s with each carding 39 vs. Bensalem.
“Last year, I called my sophomores the cleanup crew because they were hitting seven and eight,” said May. “Now, they are the heart and soul of the team.”
“Next year, I’ll be looking for a junior to step up who is capable of consistently shooting in the 30s that will get us over the edge and give us a solid first five.”
Laushell and Foll are YCC members and typically score well there. But May wasn’t sure they could play consistently well in visiting pairings. That hasn’t been the case, however, he said.
“If you look at them, they are small and thin. But they do a great job of scoring.
“With their size, I wasn’t sure if they could carry their play over to the other courses.
“Now, that’s my team of the future and I see good things.”
Seniors Justin Freidman, Dan Herbine, Brendan Strenge and Mackenzie Mix have also played well. Freidman and Herbine carded 40 strokes apiece vs. Bensalem and only one more than that vs. Pennridge.
Strenge was the fifth-lowest score with 42 vs. Bensalem and 41 vs. Pennridge. That’s not bad for a player who was on the bubble by the end of tryouts last season.
The coach is simply amazed by Brendan, who was a man on a mission in the offseason. May says the 12th-grader worked on his game all spring and summer long with the intention of putting a nice finishing touch on his varsity golf career. At tryouts, which consist of three rounds of nine holes each, Strenge carded 38-40-38 to make varsity.
“I’d have said hats off to him for making it onto varsity,” said May. “But the fact that he’s one of the better ones speaks volumes about the amount of work he put in this summer.”
After barely making varsity last year, the coach said Strenge knew he’d have to come up big in his final campaign. As a senior, he had to be among the top eight at tryouts.
“Last year, he had a nice swing but he was a little erratic,” explained May. “But he got better as the season went along and the guys really liked him so we kept him on board.”
May might have had a hint that Brendan was going to come into the current campaign with something to prove. That’s because this summer, May says, Strenge captured the junior club championship at YCC.
For her part, Mix shot a 42 vs. Bensalem and her score didn’t even count. Mackenzie played as part of an intra-squad matchup that day.
“He game is just getting better and better,” said May. “She’s one of the strongest girls in the league.”
And freshman Cooper Arnold, who carded a 46 on varsity vs. Bensalem, is also playing well.
“He has some things he needs to work on but he definitely has all the skills,” the coach said. “Getting time on varsity as a freshman is huge.”
While Abington is currently sitting atop the SOL National Conference, May says the team to beat is Council Rock South. The Golden Hawks topped Pennsbury by five strokes earlier this season at Spring Mill Country Club.
Three things worked against the Falcons’ favor that day on the Hawks’ home course. Both Kim and Foll double-bogeyed the last hole at No. 9 and CR South’s Zach Bloom came through with a 37 – six strokes below his season average.
“We had a chance to steal one there but it got away from us,” said May. “We’ll be looking for some revenge when they come to our place.”
And while Council Rock North may have won the SOL National trophy last year – on a coin toss after tying CR South, no less – the Indians are experiencing some growing pains thus far after the graduation of Maddie Herr and Logan Fuglestad.
“Council Rock North handled us pretty easily last year but North is not the team they were last year,” said May.
Looking up the board, SOL National leader Abington is 5-1 in league play. Pennsbury must travel to Huntington Valley Country Club Wednesday, Sept. 7 in order to take on the Galloping Ghosts.
The only common opponent between the two teams is Neshaminy. While Abington topped the Skins 212-217 at Middletown CC earlier this season, the Falcons scored eight strokes lower than that on Neshaminy’s home course in a 204-212 win over the Skins.
One defeat recently suffered by Pennsbury in a non-league pairing was a 209-205 loss to CB West at Doylestown CC. The coach says, the Falcons will seek revenge in a tri-match with Abington Sept. 15 at YCC.
Until then, it’s a 3-day weekend of golf, a day of practice and then a battle with the Ghosts in Huntington Valley. The next day, it’s a matchup not to miss between CR South and Pennsbury.
The coach suspects it will be one for the ages.
Contact Steve Sherman at email@example.com, @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
PENNSBURY 194, BENSALEM 280
(Aug. 31 at Yardley Country Club)
PENNSBURY (194) – Ryan Kim 36, Griffin Foll 39, Pat Laushell 39, Justin Freidman 40, Dan Herbine 40, Brendan Strenge 42, Chris Dull 43, Cooper Arnold 46.
BENSALEM (280) – Jordon Love 50, Ryan Gladu 53, Matt Nowaczyk 54, Noah Brodecki 58, Ray Horner 65, Ryan Hund 72, Deep Patel 73.
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