Don’t tell the Mt. Lebanon boys golf team lightning can’t strike the same place twice.
Last fall, the Blue Devils beat North Allegheny by one stroke when Matt Dyke sunk the winning putt on the last hole.
Lebo then kicked off its 2020 season with a 207-208 victory against the Tigers.
“We were trying to beat out a lightning storm and weren’t sure who won until we got everyone out of the elements,” Blue Devils head coach Al D’Alo said. “We ended up winning by one stroke again, which was a nice start to our season.
“NA is a nice win for us in that they are a very similar team to ours,” he said. “We always have very tight and competitive matches with them.”
D’Alo expects much of the same as the Blue Devils look to improve upon last season’s 12-3 campaign, which led by Dyke and Myles Hamel, included a trip to the semifinals of the WPIAL individual championships.
This fall, Lebo is led by seniors Colin Barrett and Brian Wilke, while juniors Zach Dyke, Nico Renton, Jackson, Josh Shelleberger, Hollis Whalen and sophomore Callan Wilcox should contribute to the Blue Devils’ success.
“This year we have a similar make-up of our team, but I believe we can perform better when it matters the most, in the playoffs,” D’Alo said. “We will work on our mental toughness to try to avoid the missteps that come along with the pressure of playoff golf. Our goal is to win it all, but our primary goal is to get better and to enjoy each other.”
WPIAL runner-up and rival Upper St. Clair as well as PIAA champion Fox Chapel, Shady Side Academy, Seneca Valley, Central Catholic and Peters Township promise to provide stiff competition for Lebo.
Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic also presents a big obstacle.
“We all realize that being together competing on the golf course is a gift that can be taken from us at any point in time,” D’Alo said. “So far, our team has stayed healthy and been able to bond with the limited time we have.”
Therein lies Lebo’s stiffest challenge. Practice time is at a premium because the Blue Devils train and play home matches at the Mt. Lebanon public golf course.
Dave Boal manages the facility. He is also Lebo’s junior varsity coach.
“The course is seeing record tee times and play because the general public sees golf as a safe alternative to the restrictions of COVID,” D’Alo said. “So the challenge high school golf faces centers around how busy courses are and how difficult it is to get practice rounds and tee times. Fortunately, we have been able to adjust our practices and make it work.”
The Blue Devils also have labored to maintain safety on the course and during matches. According to D’Alo, they have become accustomed to wearing masks.
“It is a small sacrifice to keep us on the course together,” he said. “Our greatest strength is the lasting friendships these young men have formed working their way up through the ranks. So we wish to continue playing. Our hope is for a long, fun and successful season.”