Mirror photo by Michael Boytim
Tyrone’s Cyrus Ahlert helped the Golden Eagles finish with a score that was two strokes better than Bedford.
By Michael Boytim
ORE HILL — One of the biggest challenges while playing golf is putting a bad shot behind you and not letting it impact your next shot.
Faced with that exact situation on perhaps the biggest stage of her high school golf career Wednesday, Tyrone’s Cassidy Miksich came through.
With her ball in the middle of the fairway on No. 18 at Iron Masters Country Club and her team in a tightly contested match with Bedford in a PIAA Class 2A regional and a chance to play in the team state championship on the line, Miksich duffed her approach shot.
Instead of having an opportunity to putt for birdie, Miksich faced the more likely possibility of a bogey if she didn’t hit her next shot close — a swing of shots that could change that outcome of the match.
Miksich reached the green on her next shot but left herself a long par putt as her family, coach, teammates and several others watched from beyond the 18th hole.
When her Bedford opponents and teammate Cyrus Ahlert took their putts, Miksich stayed calm. Moments later, she drained the long putt for a par to clinch the match as Tyrone coach Mike Funicelli screamed, “bang” and pumped his fist.
“I’ve made putts like that before,” Miksich said. “So, I knew I could do it. I wasn’t overly nervous about it, because I knew I could recover, and I knew how to do it.”
The Golden Eagles got a 79 from Mountain League MVP R.J. Royer, an 80 from Miksich, an 84 from Luke Brooks and an 86 from Ahlert. Their combined score of 329 was two strokes better than Bedford’s final tally.
“We have been riding our four starters all year, and they have been coming through,” Funicelli said. “The last district title for Tyrone was in 2003. What we did this year, not just winning districts but winning this regional and making states, is unprecedented for Tyrone golf. It comes down to our kids wanting to be here and get better. They not only focus on their physical game, but their mental game as well.”
Tyrone came into the match expecting it to be tight. The Golden Eagles defeated Central by just one stroke to win the District 6 Class 2A championship, and Bedford topped the Scarlet Dragons by three strokes earlier this month.
“I knew Bedford had a solid team with four solid players,” Funicelli said. “I knew they were going to score around 330. I wanted to be around 330, and we did one stroke better, and they were one stroke off that. The match was right there.”
Bedford, the District 5 Class 2A champions, got two 79s from individual district champion Matt Tokarczyk and Matt Edwards. Josh Topper carded an 83, and Luke Sell shot a 90.
“The big thing is consistency for us,” Bedford coach Matt Barkman said. “Sometimes a lot of schools end up having to count a 95, but for us, most of our guys play in the 80s, and that’s helped us win a lot of matches this year. We just didn’t have that fourth score in the 80s today, and that ended up making the difference.”
Tyrone was in control of Wednesday’s match before Bedford tried to stage a rally.
“We shot 332 at districts here last week,” Barkman said. “We fell behind early today, but we made a nice charge on the back nine before coming up just short right there at the end. We played really well today, and if a couple of things would have broken a little differently, maybe we get another result, but good luck to Tyrone at states.”
Tyrone plays in the Mountain League, one of the few conferences in high school golf that still play 18-hole matches in the regular season. Bedford plays in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, which plays nine-hole matches.
“It helps. It absolutely does,” Funicelli said. “Every time we step on a golf course, we play 18 holes. From the beginning of the season until the end, we are walking. It takes a toll on you when you just play nine over and over and all of a sudden you have to go out and walk 18 in the playoffs. It definitely helps our stamina, and it helps our mental game as well. You can shoot a 37 on the front and shoot a 48 on the back. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Playing 18 is key for us.”
Royer, Tokarczyk, Edwards and Miksich, who won the District 6 girls individual Class 2A championship, will participate in the individual state championships at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York on Monday, and Tyrone will compete in the team championship on Oct. 25.
“It’s been great, and we’ve been playing well,” Royer said. “I wasn’t nervous. We played with confidence.”
Miksich said the opportunity in front of Tyrone hasn’t quite hit her yet.
“It hasn’t set in yet,” Miksich said. “It will probably set in tomorrow like, ‘oh my God, we’re going to the state tournament.’”
TYRONE (329): Royer 79, Miksich 80, Brooks 84, Ahlert 86.
BEDFORD (331): Tokarczyk 79, Edwards 79, Topper 83, Sell 90.
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