Conyngham, Pa. - The 2016-17 athletics season kicked off on Monday with the Penn State Hazleton Invitational at the Valley Country Club with four teams vying for the year's first team match title. Competitors were blessed with favorable conditions on the pristine Tillinghast course, allowing precision shot-makers to go low on a course that has notoriously challenged the top players in the Penn State University Athletic Conference.
Penn State Mont Alto took home the team crown on Monday with an impressive team score of 310 combined strokes, clinching the victory by a 14 stroke margin over Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Tom Shearer earned medalist honors for Mont Alto with a two over par round of 73 that included a back nine score of -1 while teammate Owen Groft fired the second lowest round of the day with a 76. A laudable effort gave Penn State Wilkes-Barre a second place finish at 324 strokes, with Penn State Hazleton ending their day in third with a total of 336 and Penn State Schuylkill rounding out the field with a score of 400.
Four new faces turned in a solid set of scores for the Penn State Hazleton Nittany Lions in their first outing as squad. Freshman John Hawley (Mountain Top, Pa.) finished the day tied for third place with an eight over par round of 79. The freshman's round got off to a rocky start, shooting 10 over par on his first six holes, but Hawley was determined to post a number and found success with birdies on holes eight, thirteen and fifteen, finishing -2 on his final 12 holes. Junior Zach Kyttle (Berwick, Pa.) had a fine round going before a triple bogey on the difficult par three fifth hole spoiled an excellent front nine. Kyttle righted the ship to card an 81 in his debut with the Lions, the sixth best score of the afternoon. Rounding out the Hazleton cards were freshmen Joshua Provost (Hazleton, Pa.) and Geran Triano (Sugarloaf, Pa.) who both shot rounds of 88 respectively in their first collegiate outings.
The Lions finish third on their home course, but show positive signs collectively, besting their 2015 scoring total on the Valley Course by 26 strokes. Hazleton will look to continue to trend upward when they travel to University Park to play in the PSUAC Invitational at the Penn State White Course on Thursday September 8.