Kinneer qualifies for WPIAL Championship

Jim Downey | Herald-Standard

Connellsville’s Madison Kinneer plays from the fairway to the seventh green at Pleasant Valley Golf Club during the Lady Falcons’ Section 3-AAA match against Indiana on Sept. 9. Kinneer made program history Wednesday after becoming the first girl to qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA Girls Individual Golf Championship.

The Connellsville girls golf program is still in its infancy with the Lady Falcons in their third year of existence.

Madison Kinneer made program history Wednesday afternoon when she became the first Connellsville girl to qualify for the WPIAL Girls Class AAA Individual Golf Championship after she shot 87 in the Section 3-AAA qualifier at Murrysville Golf Course.

Laurel Highlands’ Megan Joyce also advanced from the qualifier, and joins Kinneer in the district championship at historic Oakmont Country Club on Oct. 8.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Meghan and Ella Zambruno, Izzy Aigner and Angelika Dewicki, Carmichaels’ Remmey Lohr and Geibel Catholic’s Claire Konieczny qualified out the Section 1-AA qualifier at Latrobe Elks for the WPIAL Class AA Individual Golf Championship at Allegheny Country Club on Oct. 1.

Kinneer carded eight fives and one three to go out in 43. The senior had a couple big numbers on the back nine, but came back with 44 to slide under the target score of 89.

"I was a little nervous, but anxious," said Kinneer, who also plays soccer. "I shot 43 on the front. I took a seven (on No. 12). I had a bad second shot and didn't recover."

“Maddie made us proud,” praised Connellsville girls golf coach Ken House. “She said her short game saved her round. She was having trouble with her second shot.

“The pin placements were tough to get to with small, tough greens.”

Kinneer is looking forward to extending her golf season a couple more weeks.

"It's pretty exciting. I wasn't expecting much," said Kinneer. "Oakmont, it's exciting."

Albert Gallatin’s Paige Metts shot 109 and the Lady Falcons’ Courtney Layman finished with 116.

Lohr qualified for her third WPIAL championship — second girls final — with a 78, well under the target score of 94.

The senior said she was able to right her game on the greens on the back nine.

“I actually hit the ball really well. My putting was not so good on the front. My speed wasn’t very good. I’d hit past the hole and miss it coming back. I had three or four 3-putts. That’s why I shot 43,” said Lohr. “I shot 1-under (35) on the back with three birdies and two bogeys.”

Lohr credited her solid stroke play to getting her driver under control.

“I lost my driver (earlier in the season). I didn’t figure it out yet. I didn’t have it down,” explained Lohr. “I hit my driver well today. I got my driver back.”

The Class AA girls received five extra strokes to the target score, whimsically named the “covid strokes.”

“I loved the extra strokes. Oh, yeah. They bumped it up,” said Lohr, adding of her expectations, “I wanted to be in the 70s.”

Lohr made headlines last fall when she qualified for the WPIAL boys championship because of a rule that stipulates a non-girls team can only send one golfer to a girls qualifier. Lohr’s older sister Delaney qualified for the girls tournament.

Lohr said she’s still pointed out as “that girl.”

“They talked about it. They kept bringing it up,” said Lohr.

Now, she goes back to Allegheny Country Club for the third straight year. And, she’ll have company after her brother Liam, a freshman, qualified for the boys final.

The Mikes also have two Section 8-AA matches left to give the Lohrs a couple competitive rounds. Should the Mikes defeat Waynesburg Central and Beth-Center, they will win another section crown.

Meghan Zambruno was medalist in the Section 1-AA qualifier with 75. Ella Zambruno finished with 79. Aigner and Dewicki both shot 92, and Konieczny finished right at the target score with 94.

Konieczny, a sophomore, had a nail-biting finish, but her par putt on the final hole landed her right on the target score for her second trip to the WPIAL championship.

“I thought I needed to birdie the last hole to make the cut,” said Konieczny, who shot 47 on both the front and back. “I was not hitting well on the range. I didn’t feel I was ready. Teeing off, I was a little nervous, at first.

“I was psyching myself out.”

Konieczny thought she was righting her game just before the turn.

“I hit my first good iron shots on Nos. 7 and 8. I told myself ‘You got this. You can turn this around,’” said Konieczny.

“The greens were not too bad, the most part. I didn’t have any 3-putts,” added Konieczny.

The Lady Gators have Section 1-AA matches against Ligonier Valley this afternoon and Southmoreland on Friday. A victory over the Lady Rams today clinches second place and a berth into the WPIAL Class AA Team Championship.

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