SCH junior Parker Popky putts to finish his round at last Wednesday’s Inter-Ac golf event. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

SCH junior Parker Popky putts to finish his round at last Wednesday’s Inter-Ac golf event. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

When the Inter-Ac League staged the fourth of its regular-season golf invitationals last Wednesday, the players from host Springside Chestnut Hill Academy took advantage of their familiarity with Sunnybrook Golf Club and put up their best outcome of the season thus far.

While the Main Line league members – Episcopal Academy, Haverford School, and Malvern Prep – have consistently occupied the top three places, the teams on this side of the Schuylkill have been scrapping among themselves. After one sixth-place finish and two fifth-place outcomes in the first three Inter-Ac outings, SCH climbed into fourth place last Wednesday with a score of 244, coming in ahead of Penn Charter (248) and Germantown Academy (267).

Led by senior Otis Baker with a one-under-par round of 35 at Sunnybrook, Haverford finished first last Thursday with a score of 227, pulling into a tie with Malvern Prep for the overall league lead. Malvern, paced by a 38 from sophomore Nick Miller, was second with a team tally of 240, with number three Episcopal just two strokes back.

Last fall, Springside Chestnut Hill had the individual Inter-Ac champion on its roster, but Jack Grasso has now moved on to the University of Pennsylvania.

This year, senior captain Matt Geigerich related, “We have six seniors on the roster. None of us is really outstanding, but we have a lot of experience.”

His classmates on the squad are Phil Giovinazzo, Brian Hamilton, Andy Mutch, Jack Prochniak, and Evan Wolfe.

None of them are golfers first and foremost, unlike the members of some of the other league squads. Giegerich for example, is an excellent squash player who is hoping to follow his older brother Brian (SCH ’14) onto the courts at Dartmouth.

Springside Chestnut Hill’s leader in several of the league events, including the one at Sunnybrook, has been sophomore Ian Diaz. He fired a 38 last Wednesday, and the Blue Devils received two scores of 40 from Kasian and Prochniak. Junior Wyatt Smith came in with a 41, and in the play-eight, score-six format, SCH’s total was rounded out by a 42 from Giovinazzo and a 43 from Geigerich.

Penn Charter wound up just four points behind the Blue Devils and was led by a 37 from senior veteran J.B. Bradbeer. Another 12th-grader, Owen Davis, came around in 40 strokes, and the Quakers received rounds of 42 from junior Paul Glatz and freshman Brian Isztwan. Junior Henry Centeno carded a 43 for Charter, and senior Hunter Gates turned in a 44.

Germantown Academy struggled a bit at Sunnybrook, which in days of yore was the Patriots’ home course. Senior Jake Niedosik spearheaded the GA effort with a score of 40, and following sophomore Gaven Giampalini’s 42 there were three scores of 46 furnished by senior Grant LaSorda and freshmen Ryan Booth and Drew Hoeppner. Rounding out the team score was a 47 from junior Tyler Andra.

Because GA does not field a girls’ golf team in the spring, senior Brooke Fireman has become the only female player on the Inter-Ac circuit in the fall. She wasn’t far off the pace of some of the boys last Wednesday, with a round of 49.

The recent improvements made by Springside Chestnut Hill reflect some growth in the individual players since the start of the season.

The Blue Devils’ Geigerich noted, “I think where our team has improved the most has been in the mental aspect of the game, which may be the most overlooked part. Coach Francis (Vaughn) and Coach Ted (Monaco) have done a good job working with us not only to improve our mechanics, but also with helping us how to think out there – how to shake off a bad hole and move on and stay focused.”

As for his personal golf game, the Blue Devils captain revealed, “I’ve been working on my short game. I have plenty of power off the tee and with my irons, but sometimes I give away strokes on my putting and chipping.”

After two more team outings in the Inter-Ac, individual golfers will compete in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Championships, and in the Inter-Ac Championships at the Philadelphia Cricket Club on October 22.