Central Cambria’s Max Kirsch and Richland’s Brady Moran are both friends and rivals on the golf course.
Have been for years.
The high school seniors pushed each other throughout scholastic competition and at summer events such as the Greater Johnstown Tournament.
The duo represented District 6 one more time on Tuesday. Once again, they finished near the top of the pack during the state’s premier high school golf showcase.
Kirsch finished eighth at the PIAA golf championships. Moran tied for ninth after the final round of the two-day event at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York.
The top 10 golfers earn PIAA medals among a field of 36.
“It’s pretty cool. I could have done better, but I had a lot of fun doing this,” said Kirsch, the two-time District 6-AA champion. “It’s my senior year and I had fun with it.”
Kirsch shot a 4-over 75 on Tuesday after opening with a 78 on Monday. His 153 was 11-over par, or eight strokes behind PIAA champion Isaiah Logue, a junior from District 3 Fairfield.
Moran had a 7-over 78 in the second round and a 77 on the first day. With 155, he tied junior Owen Miller of District 7 Burgettstown for ninth.
“It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but I’m definitely happy,” said Moran, who placed second in District 6 behind Kirsch during their senior and junior years. “Any time you’re in the top 10 in the state, basically, you're in the top 500 in the nation. That’s a pretty big landmark.”
Last fall Moran finished in the top-30 in the state. Kirsch didn’t advance to the PIAA event as a junior.
Both players improved heading into their senior season.
“We have competition against each other,” Kirsch said. “We’ll stay on the putting green a couple hours and putt around. We’ll hit balls. They had lights on the putting green (at Heritage Hills). We were out there until 9:15 (Monday night) hitting balls. It was fun.”
Moran shot what is believed to be a Richland record round of 65 during a match against Bishop McCort earlier this season. He had a strong summer, winning the Greater Johnstown event against mostly older and more experienced players in August. That win earned Moran a berth in next year’s Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions.
Kirsch had a strong showing in the Greater J and led through three rounds before finishing tied for fifth.
“Definitely us pushing each other makes us focus so much more,” Moran said. “We play a lot in the summer too. Whenever I pick up things on his game that he does well, I incorporate it. I’m sure he does the same with the things that I do well. We mix and match. It makes it easier.”
On Tuesday, Kirsch had birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. He had six bogeys.
“I hit the ball good both days,” Kirsch said. “Once I got on the greens, they were tough to read and a little bumpy. I managed to only three-putt a couple times. I made three birdies in two days, which is terrible.”
Moran said the greens presented the biggest challenge.
“The greens were the most confusing greens I’ve ever putted on with all the undulations, the hills,” Moran said. “The high point included No. 5. I chipped in a birdie. I had four straight bogeys on the back nine which wasn’t very fun. Those holes dragged on forever.”
Both players want to continue playing golf at the college level, though neither has made a commitment.
“I was waiting until after states,” Kirsch said.
Moran said he wouldn’t mind seeing the friendly rivalry develop into a team effort at the next level.
“It’s great to have someone to always have a competition against. You work with him. It’s kind of cool,” Moran said. “The fact that we’re friends makes it important to win. It’s a pride thing. Talking to him the last few days, maybe we’ll go to the same college and play on the same team. Whenever we play together, we play pretty well.”
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