Saturday, September 25, 2021 | 11:01 am
Joy Manesiotis | North Allegheny Athletics
The North Allegheny girls’ golf team starts 2021 at 12-1.
Joy Manesiotis | North Allegheny Athletics
Sissi Hai (left) and Katie Rose Rankin helped the North Allegheny girls’ golf team get off to a 12-1 start in 2021.
Many of the golfers on the North Allegheny girls’ team already have their own swing instructors, so first year coach Sarah Morrison doesn’t try too much with her mechanics.
Instead, the attorney and former college golfer turned her attention to her mind between strokes.
“My biggest focus with them this year has been their mental game,” said Morrison, a Beaver graduate who was running for Youngstown State. “Especially for high school female golfers, the game is 90% mental. I think our team results showed that. On the days when they are mentally strong, we score really, really well. And on the days when they are mentally not that strong, we have a bit of a struggle. “
The team had far more good days than bad this year. The Tigers won 12 of their first 13 appearances behind Junior Katie Rose Rankin, Senior Sissi Hai, Junior Lauren Kardos and runner-up Megan Manesiotis and Amber Roth. That marks a major turnaround from last season’s 6-5 record, but Morrison is diverting any credit from himself.
“I don’t swing the golf clubs,” she said, “so that they have all the honor.”
Rankin, a two-time winner on the Tri-State PGA Junior Tour earlier this summer, was North Allegheny’s worst scorer that season. Her average was 41, including a season best of 37 on the Diamond Run, the team’s new home course.
Last autumn she finished 20th in the WPIAL Class 3A individual championship, a finish that she was able to improve at this year’s tournament on October 7th at the Hannastown Golf Club in Greensburg. Hannastown was the site of one of their two summer victories.
“She was really the rock for our team and was very consistent all year round,” said Morrison. “She’s got a lot of really good raw talent, so we’re hoping for a state run with her.”
In addition to possible individual medals, North Allegheny is hoping for another WPIAL team title. The Tigers own 10 and won four in a row from 2015-18. They missed the team final last fall after finishing second in 2019.
This year’s team final will take place on October 14th at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Belle Vernon.
Morrison credits Hai as an executive with a focus on team success. Hai is talented enough to play in college, her coach said, but competitive golf isn’t on her long-term plans despite being 40 this year.
“She’s not really that keen on college golf, which breaks my heart,” said Morrison. “But she loves the games and loves being on the team. Your focus is really, how far can we take the team? As a trainer, you have to be enthusiastic about that. “
Morrison first learned the North Allegheny job was open through her husband, Adam Morrison, the senior professional golfer at Diamond Run. He had given private golf lessons to some of the NA players since they were 8 or 9 years old.
After being hired, she used her connections at Diamond Run to secure tee times for most of her team’s home games. The team had previously used Pittsburgh North.
“I’ve always jokingly said that coaching a girls’ golf team would be fun,” said Morrison. “I never actually played on a high school girls ‘golf team because my school didn’t have a girls’ team.”
Morrison, surnamed Scheidemante, was a two-time WPIAL championship qualifier at Beaver, even though the Bobcats did not have a girls’ golf team. She competed on the school’s boys ‘team for two seasons before playing as an individual golfer alongside Center’s girls’ team in her junior and senior years.
As a former WPIAL competitor, Morrison can understand the mental hurdles of her golfers well.
“Every conversation with them is all about if you hit a bad shot, move on to the next hole,” she said. “You started badly, you turn your scorecard over and start over. I don’t care if it’s the fifth or sixth hole, but it’s all about this mental strength. ”
“If you can be mentally strong, you can overcome any bad shot or bad lap.”
Chris Harlan is a contributing writer to Tribune Reviewers. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or on Twitter.
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