FLEETWOOD — Marple Newtown senior Sam Soeth has been one of the top scholastic golfers in Delaware County for four years, but he never managed to translate his regular-season success into a PIAA Tournament berth.
Radnor sophomore Brynn Walker has emerged as the top female scholastic golfer in Delco and she reached Heritage Hills Golf Club as a freshman a year ago.
Both are headed for York County next week, Soeth for the first time and Walker for the second year in a row, following strong showings in the PIAA East Region Tournament on a sun-splashed day at Golden Oaks Golf Club Tuesday.
Soeth carded a 2-over 74 over the par-72 Golden Oaks layout that measured 6,648 yards for the boys ("The tees were all back, I'll bet it was more like 6,800 yards,' said Marple Newtown coach Dave Locher) to finish in a tie for 14th in Class AAA with eight other players on a day of surprisingly low scoring.
Walker wobbled on a closing stretch of the front nine, going bogey, double bogey, double bogey and stood at 6-over with nine holes to play. She then proceeded to rip off six pars and three birdies the rest of the way to finish with a 3-over 75 over a Golden Oaks course that measured 5,502 yards for the girls to finish in a tie for fourth place in Class AAA.
Starting on the fourth hole, Soeth was steady early, making pars on his first six holes before a bogey at the 10th. He drilled a 6-iron seven feet away at the par-3 13th and made that putt for a birdie and then dropped in a 25-foot birdie try on the par-4 14th and suddenly stood at 1-under.
But Soeth, an All-Delco as a freshman, never lost focus on what he was trying to do out there.
"My goal coming into the round was just hit greens and fairways and make pars,' Soeth said. "It's a pretty wide-open course, there's no reason not to hit it in the fairway here.'
A three-putt bogey at 16 stalled Soeth's momentum and he finished up with bogeys at two and three to fall back to 2-over.
"I was in the hazard at three and I made a nice chip and made the putt for a bogey, so that was a good save,' Soeth said. "That could easily have been a six.'
Springfield senior Brian Todaro, making his first regional appearance, managed only one birdie in his round at the par-4 17th. His 7-over 79 did not get the job done. The scores were so low that Conestoga's Robert Olseski found himself in a playoff for the final two state berths with three other players at 3-over 75. Olseski was eliminated when he bogeyed the second playoff hole.
"The putts definitely didn't break as much you thought they would,' Todaro said.
Walker, who finished in a tie for seventh at Heritage Hills and helped the Radnor girls win the Class AAA state team title a year ago, started on the 18th hole and was cruising along at 1-over when she three-putted the sixth for a bogey, three-putted the seventh for a double bogey and then made a double bogey at the eighth. Walker, winner of the Pennsylvania Junior Tournament last summer, was probably never in real danger of not qualifying for states, but she didn't want to take any chances.
"I had to really pick myself up there,' Walker said. "I had a couple of bad holes, but I knew I had it in me to be able to turn it around.'
After missing a short birdie try at the par-3 ninth, Walker watched her 30-foot putt at the par-4 10th dive in the cup for a much-needed birdie.
"That gave me a little confidence boost, a nice jolt,' Walker said, "especially after I missed that easy putt on nine. I really had a lot of birdie chances all day.'
Walker dropped in a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-4 12th and an eight-footer for birdie at the par-3 15th. She just missed legitimate birdie tries on her last two holes, 16 and 17.
Walker finished three shots back of regional champion Erica Herr, the Council Rock North senior who heads to Heritage Hills looking for a third straight state title. District One champion Jackie Rogowicz of Pennsbury, runner-up to Herr at the state tournament a year ago, was second at 1-over 73 and Coatesville's Samantha Staudt took third with a 2-over 74. Central Dauphin's Allison Cooper matched Walker's 75 and finished in a tie for fourth.
"I pulled it together and now I'm going states and I cannot wait to get there,' Walker said. "I really like it there. I'm playing good this year, so we'll just go up there and see what happens.'
Bonner-Prendergast senior Anna Haley, making her first regional appearance, carded a 90.
NOTES: Bishop Shanahan junior Kevin Connors made four birdies on the front nine on his way to a 5-under 67 that gave him the Class AAA individual title. ... District One champion Kyle Vance of Methacton and brother Kyle matched par and were among four players tied for sixth. ... Reigning PIAA Class AA champion Cara Basso of Villa Maria Academy fired a 78 to finish second to Shannon Weber of Kutztown, who claimed AA honors with a 76. ... Cole Miller of Northwestern Lehigh claimed AA boys honors with a 4-under 68.