Monday, September 6, 2021 | 10:14 p.m.
William Whalen | For the Tribune review
Burrell golfers pose at Oakmont Country Club after a 279-281 win over Riverview on September 2. From left are Trainer Joe Virone, Jaxon Logut, Joe Discello, Sam Abraham, Zack McKnight, Cam Seidel, Reece Kennedy, Austin Schueler, Emily Wojtczak and Trainer George Hubbard.
The Burrell boys’ golf team anchored at Oakmont Country Club last week. After losing three starters last season and playing on one of the best golf courses in the world, the Bucs came into their Section 1-2A game against rival Riverview with more questions than answers.
“It was hard to start the season in Oakmont because the kids will have a higher score there because it was in Oakmont,” said Burrell manager Joe Virone, who is in his 16th season. “It was a tough start to the season because it was away and in Oakmont.”
Burrell (2-0, 2-0) took a narrow win over the Raiders, 279-281. In a game early in the season, the Bucs found out who they are as a team.
“It was a fantastic course and a great win over Riverview,” said Junior Reece Kennedy. “It was great. Everyone put it together, did what we had to do and we prevailed to win.
“I think we came from this course thinking that we can actually do something and really play golf. Everyone gained more self-confidence afterwards, I guarantee that. That was my first time (when I played Oakmont). “
The uplifting victory was only one step towards the Bucs’ goal. After missing the WPIAL class 2A postseason in 2019, the 2020 Bucs remained undefeated in section 1-2A and returned to the playoffs. The goal this season is to stay undefeated and move one step further in the postseason.
Having to replenish talent due to graduation can be a coaching nightmare at times, but Virone knew who he was coming back to and the potential of some of his younger players.
“I knew we had enough kids coming back and some kids who improved towards the end of the year and played over the summer,” Virone said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. If you’re lucky enough to have three or maybe four of your starters back and get some of the kids who played (in the) seven or eight (spots) and if they kept playing through the summer we should have a pretty good one Team.”
Burrell had a strong turnout this season with 12 golfers. At the top are senior Austin Schueler, who has trimmed four strokes below his average since last season, as well as juniors Reece and Jaxon Logut.
Rounding out the top six players Sam Abraham and junior Emily Wojtczak. The juniors Zack McKnight and Cam Seidel as well as the newcomer Logan Griffith rotate through the sixth place in the line-up.
“If my six (Spot) can shoot in their lower to mid 60s we’ll be fine,” Virone said. “Sometimes it is difficult to fill this position. It just kind of spins. “
One thing Virone has done differently this season is staggering its top three players across the lineup rather than stacking them in the 1-3 places. It was a suggestion coming from assistant coach George Hubbard that seems to have worked like a charm.
“I put them in first, third and fifth so they could somehow help the younger ones,” said Virone. “I’m trying to match them with the newer kids. All three of these kids were really good at this role. All three of these guys could be my number one. “
William Whalen is a freelance writer.