Improving Tigers top Bombers
nancy scholz/times news Palmerton's Billy Heinick watches his shot during Wednesday's match against Northwestern.
The competition throughout the Colonial League the past two years hasn't treated a young Northwestern golf team too kindly.
After not earning a single victory in 27 matches over that span, Tiger head coach Justin Smith believes the program is finally reaping the benefits from the experience.
It continued Wednesday afternoon against a Palmerton program that was hit hard by the graduation of previous TIMES NEWS Players of the Year Mike Englert and Dan Costenbader, and has in turn become a young team itself.
The Tigers carded a convincing 398-508 victory over the Bombers. It was the team's first win over Palmerton since the program's inaugural season in 2005.
"Everyone's always been committed to improvement," Smith said. "The young players didn't get frustrated by losing. Instead, I think it inspired them a little bit to work harder so they could win.
"They saw where the level of competition was and they knew themselves if they worked hard they could get to that level. And, they have done that this season."
The Tigers, who had lost eight straight matches to Palmerton, turned things around this time by shooting under 400 as a team for the first time this season.
Freshman phenom Cole Miller paced the pack of the Tigers by taking medalist honors on the day. Miller turned in a one-under-par 71. Classmate Nick Vecellio followed with a 75 while senior Tyler Kunsman followed with an 80.
On the other hand, the Bombers (2-7) were without their pace setter Ben Andrews, who was competing in a tournament out of state.
"Coming into it, I knew Northwestern had improved a lot," said Palmerton coach Dave Lavin said. "I knew they (Northwestern) had done a lot of hard work and had been scoring really well lately. Not having Ben, I knew it was going to be a challenge to get a win here and that proved to be true. Ben's a good leader for us. It's nice having him setting the pace and I think it's nice for the rest of our team to know that they don't have pressure on themselves because they know he's going to be shooting high-60s, low 70s.
"It worked out well for us at Notre Dame of Green Pond the other day as Ben shot well and everyone else came in under 100, which is great for us."
The only Bombers to hit under a 100 on that day was the program's lone senior Billy Heinick, who finished with a team-low 82.
Northwestern improves to 5-4 one win away from tying a program record of six (set in 2005)
"We want to keep a level head and keep improving," Smith said. "They're confident that if they play to their potential we can win some more matches. We want to make sure that we're doing the right thing so we can keep playing well and not make mistakes, which happens very quickly in golf.
"This league is very competitive. Anyone can beat any team on any given day it seems. So, we need to stay committed to doing the right things and things should be alright."
Cole Miller 71, Nick Vecellio 75, Tyler Kunsman 80, Stephen Reitz 82, Brian Quinlan 90
Billy Heinick 82, Ke-Koa Mook 100, Cody Peters 105, Alex Raub 108, Brett Snyder 113
Played at par 72, Olde Homestead