Seneca Valley senior in prime position to win junior golf title
Stacy Wagner of Harmony won’t have to worry about any sudden-death playoff this time.
Wagner, who faltered on the sixth sudden-death playoff hole during last year’s WPIAL golf finals and failed to reach the PIAA tournament, is on the verge of claiming the 2002 Kings/Pepsi Tri-State PGA Junior Player of the Year honors in the girls 17- and 18-year-old division.
She will clinch the championship as long as she doesn’t finish last in her age bracket at the series’ final event on Thursday at Oak Tree Country Club.
Participants in the Junior Player of the Year event qualified by either winning one of the 14 other tournaments or accumulating enough points to finish in the top 10 of all golfers within a given age-group.
Wagner won four of the seven events in which she competed (Oakmont East, Wanango, Deer Run and Ligonier). She has accumulated a total of 129 points, giving her a 41-point lead over Ann Kapusta of Meadville.
With 28 points being awarded for a top-10 finish on Thursday, she is virtually assured of a title.
That being said, Wagner is still focused on playing well in the concluding event of the summer-long series.
“I want to finish with a good season,” she said. “Right now, I’m playing well. If I play the way I can, I can shoot a low score and win.”
Wagner, who will be a senior at Seneca Valley in the fall, finished second in points in the same series last year.
At the Player of the Year Championship, she placed fourth by shooting an 81 on the par-74 course. She has a bitter-sweet recollection of her experience there.
“I liked the course,” she said. “It was really nice and challenging. Hopefully, I’ll shoot better than last year.”
She followed that finish with the sudden-death loss at the WPIAL finals. She still has vivid memories of the playoff, which she lost to Samantha Milosh of Center for the final spot in the PIAA tournament.
“Samantha Milosh is a friend of mine,” Wagner said. “I didn’t play with her that day, but we both ended up with the same score. We were joking around about having to play in a playoff, and then, we actually did.
“For my first playoff ever, it was kind of nerve-racking,” she said. “For the first five holes, we played shot for shot. Then I hit it into the bunker (on the sixth playoff hole).”
Not surprisingly, Milosh holds a six-point lead in the 15- and 16-year-old age group heading into the final event.