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4 junior players crowned at FCJGT golf championships

After playing through the heat of summer, the finalists of the Franklin County Junior Golf Tour weren't about to let a little rain get to them.

The top 24 youth golfers in the program gathered at Penn National Founders on Thursday afternoon and crowned champions in four divisions, including three from Waynesboro.

Devin Smith fired an 80 to win the Gontz Division (Boys 13-15) with the best 18-hole score of the day, Nick Franki captured the Burke Division (Boys 16-18) with an 81, and Erika Cauffman took first in the Kacy Straub Division (Girls 13-18) with an 83.

The only non-Waynesboro winner was Tyler Fortney, who lives at Penn National. He shot his best nine-hole round ever at Founders with an even par 36 to claim the Breed Division (12-under).

Fortney was as steady as could be, recording a par on each of the nine holes he played, which was the front nine.

"The best part was my driving, I think," Fortney said. "I think I hit all the fairways."

His biggest escape came on his last hole, No. 9, a par 3. He put his tee shot into a bunker, but was able to get up and down to complete his all-par round.

Fortney said, "That shot out of the sand was probably the hardest one. I felt a little bit of pressure, but I hit it to about two feet away."

Kellan Smith won a chip-off for second place after he and Evan Stein tied for second at 39.

Cauffman, who will attend Penn State Mont Alto this fall and play for the men's golf team, earned her first FCJGT title by three strokes over Amanda Steier. She scored 39 on the front nine, then survived a 44 on the back nine.

"An 83 is about what I've been scoring most of the summer," Cauffman said. "I know it'll be tougher in college."

Cauffman scored her only birdie on No. 11 when she chipped in from about 35 yards away.

Devin Smith, older brother of Kellan, won by a comfortable 10 strokes over Spencer Rajtik to win the Gontz title. He made up for three double bogeys by scoring birdies on No. 1 and No. 11 - one with a long putt and the other by sticking his approach close.

"I've had a few bad rounds this summer, but I played pretty well today," said Smith, who played in this division as a 12-year-old last year.

Franki did not play in same foursome as Burke runner-up Chad Harbaugh, so he had no idea where he stood. It turns out he edged Harbaugh by a single stroke with his 81.

"I wasn't doing anything really well today, but I did a lot of scrambling," Franki said.

CHANGES COMING: Frank Wells, who has run the FCJGT program for the last seven of its 37-year history, is expanding the footprint a little next summer. He already has secured a tournament at Greencastle Golf Club, and will have the younger group play at Whitetail Golf Resort, and he's trying to get a round played at Black Rock in Hagerstown, Md.

"We had one kid from Washington County this year, and we might get more next year," Wells said. "We're playing a junior tournament at Fountain Head in August. We've had kids from Adams, Fulton and Cumberland counties before, so it's not been strictly a Franklin County boundary. We just don't want to change the name because it's been around for so long."

Franklin County Junior
Golf Tour Championships
At Penn National Founders
Breed Division (Boys 12-under)

1.Tyler Fortney 36, 2.Kellan Smith 39 (won chip-off for 2nd), 3.Evan Stein 39, 4.(tie) Riley Krom, Elijah Beck 42, 6.Jackson Eby 49, 7.Stone Stockslager 52, 8.Heather Sanbower 56.
Gontz Division (Boys 13-15)
1.Devin Smith 80, 2.Spencer Rajtik 90, 3.Tyler Oyler 98 (won chip-off for 3rd), 4.Brady Cauffman 98, 5.Daniel Harman 99, 6.Connor Ambeault 106, 7.Brogan Beall 122.
Burke Division (Boys 16-18)
1.Nick Franki 81, 2.Chad Harbaugh 82, 3.Dillon LaBonte 88, 4.Alec Kessler 92, 5.Sam Franki 94, 6.Ethan Clever 95.
Kacy Straub Division (Girls 13-18)
1.Erika Cauffman 83, 2.Amanda Steier 86, 3.Taylor Zimmerman 97.