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Downingtown West freshman Gross, D-East junior O’Sullivan win Ches-Mont golf titles

EAST WHITELAND >> A pair of Downingtown underclassmen captured the individual titles at the Ches-Mont Golf Championships Tuesday at Applecross Country Club – Downingtown West freshman Nick Gross and Downingtown East junior Ava O’Sullivan.

Gross particularly felt right at home Tuesday – Applecross is his home course. One of the top-ranked golfers in the United States for his age group, Gross earned a four-stroke victory, shooting a 4-under par 68 for the boys’ title. Two days earlier, he shot his best-ever round at Applecross, a 5-under 67.

The Downingtown West freshman tallied three birdies, and the highlight of his round was an eagle on the 570-yard 12th hole. Gross pounded a mammoth drive on the dogleg left par 5, then hit a 6-iron to within five feet of the cup.

Downingtown East’s Ava O’Sullivan measures a putt on the tenth green at Applecross Country Club during the ChesMont Championships.

“I hit a lot of good iron shots today,” said the long-hitting Gross. “I wanted to get it as close to the hole as possible.”

Gross will advance to the PIAA District 1 Championships at Turtle Creek Oct. 5-6, but will not be able to compete in PIAA Regionals or States, as he has committed to an AJGA event in Oklahoma in mid-October.

A trio of golfers tied for second place, four strokes behind Gross – West Chester Rustin’s Ryan D’Ariano, Unionville’s Roy Anderson and the defending champion, West Chester Henderson’s Dylan Kochis.

Kochis, the defending boys’ champion, tallied three birdies in his even par round of 72.

“I was driving well today, but putting was hard,” said Kochis.

The Applecross greens had recently been aerated and some of the golfers noted that they were a little bumpier than in prior years, which made for more challenging putting Tuesday.

D’Ariano hit 15 greens en route to his score of 72 Tuesday. Interestingly, both he and Anderson finished tied for third place last year at the Ches-Mont Championships.

On the girls’ side, O’Sullivan finished in first place with a sparkling 1-under par 71. She started her round with three consecutive birdies, and finished with six birdies. She hit more than a dozen greens Tuesday.

“My tee-to-green game was good today,” said O’Sullivan, who finished third at the Ches-Mont Girls Championships last year, and tied for 14th at the 2019 PIAA state championships.

Downingtown West’s Nick Gross leads his foursome, Ryan Dariano of Rustin, Ben Saggers of Shanahan and Win THomas of Unionville towards the ninth green at Applecross Country Club during the ChesMont Championships.

Finishing in second place, just one stroke behind O’Sullivan, was Unionville sophomore Mary Dunigan. As a freshman, Dunigan finished second in this tournament and went on to place fifth at States. She had several birdies Tuesday, and nearly holed her 8-iron on the par 3 sixth hole (133 yards).

The defending Ches-Mont girls’ champion, West Chester East junior Victoria Kim, shot a 75 to tie for third place with Unionville’s Charlotte Scully.

“I played OK today, but I’m definitely going to work on my putting,” said Kim. “I had a bunch of birdie putts today that lipped out.”

The top 12 girls at the Ches-Mont Championships (out of a field of 26 girls) advanced to Districts. The top 23 boys (out of a field of 92 boys) qualified for Districts, to be played Oct. 5-6 at Turtle Creek (the girls will play at Ravens Claw Oct. 5).

The 23 boys who qualified for Districts were Gross, D’Ariano, Anderson, Kochis, West Chester Henderson’s Sean Suroweic (fifth place, 73), Kennett’s Luke Mullen (sixth, 74), Unionville’s Ross Charlton (75), West Chester Henderson freshman Josh Baker (75), Downingtown East’s Jake Leon (75), West Chester Rustin’s Eric Miller (75), Unionville’s Win Thomas (76), Bishop Shanahan’s Ben Saggers (77), Downingtown West’s Bret Bergey (77), Kennett’s Griffin Haas (77), Downingtown West’s Jack Renihan (78), Kennett’s Drew Zieg (78), Kennett’s Griffin Gaughan (78), Unionville’s Danny Donnelly (79), Downingtown East’s Dylan Gute (79), Unionville’s Stephen Starnes (80), Oxford’s Joe Madden (81), Unionville’s Rex Opdahi (81) and West Chester East’s Kane Gallagher (82). Gallagher was one of nine boys who shot 82, and qualified based on a tiebreaker (back nine score).

The dozen girls who qualified for Districts were O’Sullivan, Dunigan, Scully, Kim, Downingtown East’s Mia Pace (fifth place, 80), Kennett’s Nimah Narinesingh-Smith (sixth, 82), West Chester Rustin’s Mary Emma Guldi (seventh, 85), Unionville’s Morgan Santaguida (eighth, 91), Unionville Molly Evanko (ninth, 92), Unionville’s Kaitlyn Ferrer (10th, 93), Unionville’s Kira Patel (11th, 94) and Downingtown East’s Silvana Gonzalez (12th, 94).

Unionville’s Kaitlyn Ferrer chips out of the rough on the 10th fairway after an out of bounds drop at Applecross Country Club during the ChesMont Championships.

Three Ches-Mont squads qualified for Districts as a team – West Chester Henderson finished first in the Ches-Mont National boys division, while Unionville placed first in both the Ches-Mont American boys division and the Ches-Mont girls division.

Henderson’s top five golfers were 27 over par, sixth strokes better than second-place finisher Downingtown West. The Henderson quintet that will be heading to Districts for the team competition is Kochis (72), Suroweic (73), Baker (75), Eric Angle (83) and Drew DiMatteo (84).

For the Unionville boys, who captured their sixth consecutive Ches-Mont team title, the five top golfers were 22 over par, seven strokes better than second-place finisher Kennett (29 over par). The Unionville quintet who will be heading to Districts for the team competition is Anderson (72), Charlton (75), Thomas (76), Donnelly (79) and Starnes (80).

For the Unionville girls, the four top golfers were 42 over par, 14 strokes better than second-place finisher Downingtown East. The Unionville top four scores were Dunigan (72), Scully (75), Santaguida (91) and Evanko (92).

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