A season of uncertainty and social distancing has led to a change in the format of the PIAA golf championships.
For the first time since it was introduced in 2006, golfers from individual district championships will not be competing in the East and West regional events. The PIAA has canceled those tournaments and players will now advance directly from districts to the state championships, Oct. 19-20 at Heritage Hills Resort in York.
“With the uncertainty of the COVID-19, I see that they’re trying to cut down on group settings,” Abington Heights coach Frank Summa said. “At that time at Golden Oaks, there would be over 250 some people standing around, and that’s what they don’t want.
“It’s nice if we could have seen four players go, but every district is losing one or two players.”
The PIAA trimmed the field, reducing the number of boys qualifiers from six to four in Class 2A, and from four to three in Class 3A. Class 2A girls also lost a spot, sending just two to states, while 3A remains at three qualifiers.
It may not be the worst thing for District 2 players. Although last year’s East Region champ, Scranton Prep’s Thomas Lynch, was the fifth qualifier for regionals, the district will pick up more state qualifiers.
Over the four classifications dating back five years, only four times has District 2 advanced as many players via regionals as will go to states this season.
“Look at the big schools last year, what went from the big schools, two?” Scranton Prep coach Ed Cimoch said. “So it works out better. We lose two kids. But, if you look at it this way, when we got through regionals, only three went to states. This year, four are going to states, guaranteed.”
At the end of the day, Cimoch agrees with the decision to skip regionals, and not for selfish reasons.
“It’s an extremely smart move. The PIAA was on top of it this year,” Cimoch said. “They want to get as much social distancing as possible, so eliminating the regional really helped. You only have to bring a big group of kids together one time and that’s for the states at the end of the golf season.”
The state team championship Oct. 26 is unaffected by the change.
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.