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GOLF: Male Athlete of the Week, Waynesboro's Nick Franki saving his best for last

Nick Franki has put last year's disappointment in the rear view mirror.

The senior golfer at Waynesboro qualified for the PIAA Eastern Regional as a sophomore, but last year he didn't make the first-day cut at the District 3 tournament.

Franki made sure his senior year was better. On Oct. 16-17, he placed fourth in the District 3 event, shooting rounds of 74 and 72. Monday, he played in the regional tournament and finished in a tie for 11th with a 4-over par 76.

That was good enough to qualify him for next week's PIAA Championships.

"Last year was a real disappointment, not getting through districts," Indian coach Ryan Henderson said. "But Nick has gotten some redemption and that's very gratifying to see as a coach. I'm very happy for him."

Franki's strategy was pretty simple – work harder on his game.

"I'm playing better in every part of my game now than I was earlier," Franki said. "Things just started to click, which means all the hard work is paying off.

"I had to get better at putting, so during this season I made some changes – I changed up the alignment on my grip and changed my posture. And it has helped."

It certainly worked Monday. Franki made a putt of about 8 to 10 feet for his only birdie on the par 4 No. 6, he dropped in some putts to save par and was consistently two-putting on greens that were very quick and tricky.

In his first four rounds of the season, Franki averaged 78.5 and his low was a 76. In his last six rounds, he averaged 74.3, and the 76 Monday was his highest score.

Henderson said, "Nick is definitely playing better now and I'm thankful he is because I know he's put a lot of time into working on his game. He made a lot of par-saving putts (Monday)."

Franki said he got his first taste of golf hitting plastic golf balls around in his back yard starting when he was 3 years old. Now he hopes his talent can allow him to play in college.

"That's been my goal as long as I can remember," he said.

First, there is the matter of the state tournament, which is next Monday and Tuesday at Heritage Hills in York. It'll be Franki's first time on the course.

"It's a two-day tournament, but all I'm trying to do is just play the best I can and see where that puts me," Franki said.

Sport: Golf

Grade: Senior

Height: 6-foot-3

Parents: Donna and Richard Franki

Other interests: Franki likes playing and watching basketball.

Surprising fact: He is tied for the highest GPA in his senior class, and plans to study computer engineering. His dream school is North Carolina.

Favorite pro: Tiger Woods

Stastistics: In Monday's PIAA Eastern Regional at Golden Oaks G.C., Franki shot a 4-over par 76 to finish in a tie for 11th and qualify for a spot in the PIAA Championships ... His season average is 76.0.