When it comes to sunny mid-week afternoons in autumn, State College and Hollidaysburg have carried one of the biggest golf rivalries in the region.
So it came as no surprise on Monday at Sunnehanna Country Club when the Little Lions and Golden Tigers hovered around the scoring station, waiting for the final scores to trickle in.
When the sun faded below the hill in Westmont, it was State College which captured its third Wheeling Tournament title in five years, distancing itself from Hollidaysburg 651-657 – a week after dropping the DuBois Invitational by 11 strokes to the Tigers.
State College freshman Christian Friberg and Hollidaysburg senior Hunter Shields tied for the individual title with a two-round 153. Little Lion Tyrus Gates shot a second-round 74 to help him to a second-place tie with St. Joseph’s Garrett Bastardi at 154. Somerset’s Steve Yaros rounded out the top-five with a 155.
Central Cambria finished third at 659, with Richland (667) and Conemaugh Township (668) rounding out the top five in the team standings. Somerset (682) finished sixth, followed by Bishop McCort (690), Westmont Hilltop (696), Northern Cambria (705) and Bedford (723) completing the top 10 in the 16-team field.
With the Little Lions now in the Mid-Penn Conference and the Golden Tigers still competing in the Mountain Athletic Conference, the squads have become reacquainted over the past two weeks with the District 6 meet at Scotch Valley looming in mid-October.
Friberg became the Little Lions’ first Wheeling champion in 10 years, and attributed his play in the Mid-Penn helped shape his and his teammates’ game in his first season at the varsity level.
“This course is demanding, so I wanted to put the ball in play and make my shots,” Friberg said, as the Little Lions spend most of their time on the Centre Hills and Mountain View courses. “It was tough. But I am glad to be a part of this team, and I think they help me pick up my game.”
Ben Gelenberg finished at 165 to also pace the Little Lions, as Kevin Zuercher added a 179.
It was the third time that Shields’ shoes touched the grass at Sunnehanna on Monday, as he became the Golden Tigers’ first Wheeling champion since 2007. Hollidaysburg’s last team title was in 2009.
“I thought I hit the ball well today, and the greens were quick,” said Shields, whose best round of the season is a 73. “I thought my game was pretty decent. We pulled together today, and we’ve been able to push each other throughout the season, so we’re only getting better.”
Isaac Wood followed Shields with a 164 on the leaderboard, while David Snyder shot a 166 and Dan Stubbs added a 174 to fuel the Golden Tigers.
Jeremy Eckenrode led the third-place Red Devils with a 156, as Central Cambria’s scorers were Gabe Seymour at 159, Dom Stevens (164) and Collin Seymour (180).
Follow Mike Burns on Twitter @MikeBurnsTD.