Fittingly, Tori Slagle was in the swing of things when the Upper St. Clair golfer qualified for the PIAA Western Regional.
The 15-year-old sophomore finished sixth in the WPIAL Class AAA championships held Oct. 2 at Diamond Run Golf Course in Sewickley.
“Pretty much everything was working for me,” said the daughter of Angie and Chris Slagle. “I was just hitting the ball really well.”
Slagle carded an 81 and that was good enough to earn one of the district’s seven slots reserved for the regional, which will be held Oct. 15 at Tom’s Run Golf Course in Blairsville.
“I am really excited for states,” she said. “I’m hoping to just play well.”
From the start, Slagle played well in the WPIAL championships. She parred the first hole and birdied the next two. She finished with a 39 on the front nine.
“The first few holes were really good for me and then after the front nine I realized that I was tied for sixth. So I knew I was in it if I kept my head straight.”
“Personally,” she continued, “I think the front nine is a little easier but if I keep my head on straight I can push through for sure.”
Slagle persevered. She managed a 43 on the back nine after needing seven strokes to complete the 17th hole.
No girl in the field including Isabella Walter from North Allegheny and Nina Busch from Fox Chapel went under 40 on the back nine. Walter and Busch finished tied with 76s after regulation but the NA senior trumped the Foxes sophomore after sinking a 12-foot putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff.
“With the way I was playing, the back nine was pretty easy but the hole that I really struggled on was No. 17. I double-bogeyed because I lost a ball,” she explained. “Other than that it was really good.”
Since she started playing the game at age 8, Slagle has been pretty good at golf and that has USC head coach Katy Loomis excited.
“I’m very lucky to be able to coach her,” she said. “If Tori decides to continue to work hard, to learn the game, to continue to move forward, yes, I think the sky’s the limit for her.”
According to Loomis, Slagle has all the tools to succeed. Plus, she possesses plenty of the intangibles that make a champion.
“She is very confident. Very calm,” Loomis said. “Tori is able to keep a steady presence while she is out on the golf course. During a round like (the WPIAL championships), she played very tough.”
Is she tough enough to win a PIAA championship in only her second season of varsity high school golf?
Slagle says she sure hopes so. “We will have to see,” she added enthusiastically.
Slagle and Ella McRoberts were the lone two area golfers to advance to the Western Regional.
Slagle’s teammate Sara Steve failed in her bid to return to the state tournament. The senior carded an 86 to finish 14th overall. USC senior Mary Groninger followed in 17th position with an 87 score.
Previous qualifiers, Caroline McConnell from South Fayette and Lindsey Powanda from Mt. Lebanon all finished with 83 scores and just missed the cut for states.
McConnell’s teammate, Marissa Malosh placed 11th. The SF freshman carded an 84.
Among the other area participants to place and their scores were: Delaney Kern (91), Jamie Rush (92), Allison Poon (92), Morgan Byers (97)
McRoberts, Kern, Poon and Byers may meet up with Slagle, Groningen and Steve as the two may play in the WPIAL team championships set for Oct. 10 at Cedarbrook Golf Course in Belle Vernon. Their teams split decisions to gain a share of the Section 7 crown.