Lions earn 3rd straight Conference Championship behind Antolick's USCAA title

The Penn State Hazleton Golf Team poses with the conference championship banner. From left: Bobby Kaufman, Dylan Antolick, Jeremy Harper, Colin Hoy, Joey Rebarchick, Grant Culbert, Luke Randall, Brent Pesotine, Ryan Aten.
The Penn State Hazleton Golf Team poses with the conference championship banner. From left: Bobby Kaufman, Dylan Antolick, Jeremy Harper, Colin Hoy, Joey Rebarchick, Grant Culbert, Luke Randall, Brent Pesotine, Ryan Aten.

State College, Pa. - Tuesday afternoon saw the Penn State Hazleton Golf Team capture their third consecutive Penn State University Athletic Conference Championship at the Penn State Blue Course in State College, Pa. Furthermore, Hazleton placed second nationally in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association with a two-day stroke total of 606, marking their best finish in program history. Four Hazleton Nittany Lions earned All-Conference selections and were named to the All-American team including fifth-year players Colin Hoy (Harlysville, Pa.) and Jeremy Harper (Mountain Top, Pa.) along with third-year golfer Joey Rebarchick (Hazle Township, Pa.) and second-year competitor Dylan Antolick who bested the entire field of over 100 players to win the tournament and become Hazleton's first ever USCAA National Champion. 

Hazleton had played some fantastic golf coming into the event. Both Harper and Rebarchick tied for medalist honors in back-to-back events at the Blue Course and Valley Country Club in the previous two weeks, while Colin Hoy topped all PSUAC competitors at the Kennett Square Golf and Country Club event just six days prior to the championships. One player who wasn't on the radar was Antolick. The second-year player's best finish in tournament play came at the Blue Course on September 25, where he shot an 80 to help Hazleton win the event and set a program record team score of 296. Not too shabby by any means, but no one could predict Antolick would leap to the top of the leaderboard during the combined USCAA/PSUAC Championships. 

Day one of the event saw the Hazleton crew jump out in front of the PSUAC squads with a 306-team score. No surprise there after their previous accolades on the track. What was a surprise was slightly below average rounds from Hoy and Harper who struggled to see putts fall in the blustery conditions. Hoy finished the day with a plus seven score of 79, while Harper netted a 77, leaving both veterans trailing on the leaderboard for individual medals. Still, the duo's scores were solid from a team perspective and when combined with a 76 from Rebarchick, Hazleton needed just one more quality score to keep ahead of conference contenders, Penn State Mont Alto and Penn State York. Second-year golfer, Grant Culbert (Pine Grove, Pa.) posted a 84 on day one which would have given Hazleton a one shot lead after the first round, leaving Hazleton's number five golfer as the Lion's last chance to build a cushion on the field. 

Enter Dylan Antolick who began his round on the toughest hole on the golf course, the par four, third hole. Antolick cleared the hurdle with a par that sparked a terrific round. After a bogey at the difficult fourth hole, Dylan erased that blemish with a birdie on the sixth, playing the next seven holes at minus one. The bogies reared their head at the 12th and 14th holes, but the second-year golfer stayed focused to finish the day on six-hole par streak, ending the day at plus two (74), finding himself in fourth place overall and second place in the PSUAC individually. Moreover, Antolick's round netted Hazleton an 11-stroke advantage over Mont Alto, setting the Lions up for a successful tournament and chance to go after Lyon College who led the national team competition with a 301 total.

After a career day for Antolick, the pressure seemingly shifted back to the veterans to carry the team to another championship. Rebarchick played phenomenally well early in the day, playing even par through 13 holes with four birdies on the card. Rebarchick had his eye on a medal, but a double bogie at the par-three 14th hole and two late bogies took him out of contention. The third-year player matched his previous day's score to shoot 76 and finish in a tie for 7th place nationally.

Colin Hoy started slow, but three birdies over a four-hole stretch midway through the second round saved the vet's day and helped the Lions expand their lead over the conference squads with a 75 for the day. A nice rebound from day one to finish in the top 10. Like Hoy, Harper slid back on the leaderboard on the front nine but righted the ship midway through the run. Still, the two-time PSUAC individual champ never got hot with the putter, turning birdies into tap-in pars, and regular par-saves into uncharacteristic bogies. Harper struck the ball well, but some bad bounces around the greens and lip-outs on the putting surface earned the senior a 14th place finish in the USCAA with a 78 on day two. 

After a disappointing outing on day one, Culbert rebounded nicely in the final round. Four straight pars to start the day built some confidence in Culbert who was hungry to leave his mark on tournament. Culbert sat at just three over par through 14 holes played, but a miscue at the difficult par-three, 17th hole led to a double-bogey, keeping the second-year golfer off the All-Conference squad. Still, Culbert provided Hazleton with what would become their ninth score of 79 or better, finishing the day with a five over par round of 77, all but ensuring a conference title for the Lions. 

Unbeknownst to him, the pressure was off Antolick to produce another career round, but the team's goal of winning a national championship was still in play. After a nervy start to the day that saw three bogies in the first four holes, the putter began to heat up. Par saves seemingly became routine and as the second-year golfer made the turn, a quick chat with Rebarchick on the 10th tee gave him the confidence to tackle the back nine. That he did. Birdies at holes 11 and 13 got Antolick back to just one over for the day and despite the blemish of a bogey at the par-three 14th, there were still good opportunities ahead of him. Antolick sank a birdie at 15, and following a routine par on the 16th hole, Dylan chipped in for birdie at the 17th to get back to even par for the day. Antolick snuck in a par putt at 18 to complete his day and came off the course with the best round in the final pairing. When the scoring was complete, not only was it the best round in his pairing, but it was also tied for the best round of the entire field. Antolick had jumped to the top of the leaderboard, besting Johnson and Wales's Luke Cochran, Lyon College's Ryan Kriz and Penn State Mont Alto's Ryan Small for the Individual National Championship.

After playing sparsely in matches the previous season, Dylan's efforts helped the Lion's achieve one of their greatest moments in program history. A fitting way to send off Jeremy Harper and Colin Hoy who competed in their final collegiate tournaments and leave the team in the capable hands of Rebarchick, Culbert and the rest of the squad. For Hoy, he earns his second All-American award and Harper earns his fourth. Both are three-time conference champions and elevated the Hazleton program and PSUAC Golf every time they stepped on the course. A fitting tribute to the late, great Jason Martonick who brought the duo to the Hazleton campus.