Banner year for scholastic golfers
While most fall sports are just hitting midseason, the pages on the high school golf calendar recently turned to the postseason.
A large group of TIMES NEWS area golfers could be a factor in the postseason this year.
The cream of that crop is surely Palmerton's Dan Costenbader and Mike Englert. One or both of them have been in the top two in the Colonial League in each of the last three years.
Monday Costenbader won his second straight league title, shooting 1-under par 70 at Bethlehem Municipal, two strokes better than the second-place golfer, Englert.
The two close friends entered this year's tournament with the lowest stroke averages of any boys golfers in their league. Englert averaged 72.3 strokes while Costenbader had a 73.3 average. They had the exact same scoring average last year.
Costenbader and Englert have been friends and golfing partners for years. They led the Bombers to the Colonial League Tournament title Monday. A 1-2 finish for the two of them is a fitting end to their Colonial League career.
"That's what we were looking to do," Costenbader said. "Either he was going to win it or I was going to win it. Doesn't even matter who won. If he would have won I would have been just as happy."
They will also both be a factor in the upcoming district, regional and state tournaments. Both have goals of high placings in their remaining high school events. And both are capable of coming through.
"I'm pretty much looking to win this year," Englert said. "It's my last year, might as well go out with a bang. I know I can shoot low numbers. It's just a matter of having it on that day."
"For districts," Costenbader said. "I've always said that I want to win districts and I want to at least place in the top five at regionals. And at states I want to do better than last year when I was sixth."
While those two lead the way, several other local players will play in the District 11 qualifier October 5 at Schuylkill Country Club in Orwigsburg. Entry into the district qualifier is based on scoring average, which will need to be between 78-82, depending on the slope ratings of the courses they have played this season. However, each school can send one representative regardless of scoring average.
The top 34 players and ties at the 18-hole district qualifier will advance to the 27-hole District 11 Championship Tournament October 12 at Woodstone Country Club in Danielsville. The top 10 from districts will advance to the PIAA East Regional, to be played at Golden Oaks Golf Course in Fleetwood October 10. From the 64-player East Regional field, the top 26 players will move on to states at Heritage Hills Resort in York on October 26 and 27.
Several local players have a solid chance of getting to the qualifier. But making it through is difficult even for the top players.
Palmerton's Ben Andrews averaged 76.2 this year and is a shoe in for the qualifier.
Marian's Nick Tristani has competed in the postseason before and has shot some good numbers this season, including a 69 recently at Mountain Laurel.
Colts teammates Drew Sherkness and Mike Gottstein have also broke 80 recently.
Tamaqua's Jordan Heisler has shot in the 70s several times at Villas Crossing this year.
Lehighton's Dave Behler shot one of the most impressive rounds this season, a 65 at Mahoning Valley Country Club this past Monday.
The district qualifying field will be determined Monday, September 28.