NEPA Sports Nation

Lake-Lehman, Crestwood golfers shine in district qualifying event

By Tom Robinson,

EXETER – The Wyoming Valley Conference’s best golfers descended on Fox Hill Country Club Monday with individual pursuits in mind.

By the time they were done with individual qualifying for the District 2 championships, however, they had collectively served to once again show off the team strength of undefeated division champions Lake-Lehman and Crestwood.

Lake-Lehman’s Cael Ropietski led the qualifiers with a 4-under-par, 67 and teammate Michael Lugiano had the day’s only other under-par round.

Crestwood players finished in each of the first four spots in Class 3A boys qualifying.

Derek Johnson from Crestwood, Arden Brunn from Holy Redeemer and Hallie Brown from Tunkhannock finished as the other qualifying medalists.

If it had been a team competition, the Division 1 champion Comets’ top four of Johnson, Tommy Biscotti, Owen Blazick and Ray Joseph could have beaten the best four players from all the other Class 3A teams combined by 13 strokes.

Lake-Lehman had four of the top six Class 2A boys players.

With Cael Ropietski and Lugiano going low while Eli Ropietski and Charlie Weidner provided support, Lake-Lehman’s combinations was 25 strokes better than the best four players from the other Class 2A schools.

When the emphasis turns back to team competition, the Black Knights will be trying to end Scranton Prep’s six-year run as District 2 Class 2A champion as well as potentially contending among the best in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“As a team, putting up four of the top six and the top three, that means a lot,” Ropietski said. “We’ll take that momentum with us.”

The two champions left little doubt how they were able to go through the WVC schedule undefeated.

Lake-Lehman has been the No. 1 Small School all season and Crestwood took over the No. 1 Big School spot early in the season in the Riverfront Sports Super Six Golf Power Rankings of District 2 teams.

Both will be trying to protect perfect records in the team playoffs ahead.

“I didn’t see an unbeaten season,” Jarolen said. “I knew we were going to be a decent team.”

The long-ball ability of Johnson and Blazick combined with the great strides Biscotti and Joseph made from a year ago pushed Crestwood beyond that level.

All of the WVC’s individual qualifiers join the top players from the Lackawanna League Oct. 3 at Elkview Country Club for the District 2 Individual Championships.

Class 3A boys

Johnson, Blazick and Biscotti were three of the only four players in the field to break 40 on the front nine, then Joseph stood alone with a 39 on the back.

Blazick’s 1-over, 36 on the front helped him join Biscotti with 79s for second place.

Joseph was fourth with an 80.

“I knew our 1-2-3 guys were very strong and would finish pretty high,” Crestwood coach Mark Jarolen said, “but Ray Joseph with an 80 finishing fourth was very good.

“I was very impressed with his score.”

Johnson led the way.

“He hits the driver very well,” Jarolen said. “He’s very strong around the greens; he’s a great chipper and very good putter.

“His all-around game is very good.”

The Comets foursome was part of a group of 20 qualifiers from the conference in Class 3A boys.

There were 19 players with rounds of 88 or better.

The last spot came down to an eight-way playoff among players who shot 89.

Hazleton Area’s Christian Smith brought a quick end to that process with the only birdie on 1, the first hole of the playoff.

Smith’s playoff win was part of another strong team performance.

The Cougars had the most qualifiers with six.

Connor Matteo led the way, placing sixth with an 82, fueled by his front nine of 38.

Jake Babinchak made it with an 86, Gabe Fatula and Mason Mazurkiewicz with 87s and Koen Gaydos with an 88.

Berwick’s Sean Murphy was fifth with an 81 and teammate Ethan Dipippa was part of the seventh-place tie at 83, joining Rhys Bonvie from Dallas.

Brady Kugler gave Dallas another qualifier with 84 and all five Mountaineers entered broke 90, but only Bonvie and Kugler advanced.

Dallas had three and Wilkes-Barre Area two of the players who lost out in the qualifier.

Class 2A boys

Cael Ropietski was already leading the field before putting up birdies on three of his last four holes. He finished with a 10-foot, downhill putt for birdie at 17, his last hole in the shot-gun start format.

“Right now, everything’s pretty much consistent,” he said of his steady low numbers late in the season.

Cael Ropietski had six birdies and Lugiano had five.

The winning round started with a birdie on 18. Cael Ropietski got to 2-under with a birdie at 4 and another at 7 countered his first bogey and got him back to 2-under. In the end, he combined birdies on 14 and 15 with a bogey on 16 and then the final birdie on a steep 17th green that no one else count conquer.

Eli Ropietski tied Wyoming Seminary’s Nick Werner for third with 73s.

Nick Schiel, Hanover Area’s only representative, shot 78.

Weidner’s 80 grabbed the sixth of 10 available berths in Class 2A.

Players who shot 85 or better advanced to the district tournament.

Class 3A girls

Tunkhannock’s Brown bogeyed the first extra hole to win a playoff with Hazleton Area’s Ella Oswald after both shot 90s.

Kylie Zaleski, Brown’s Tunkhannock teammate, and Siena Smith from Crestwood made it four Class 3A girls who hit the qualifying standard of shooting 100 or better.

On a day when three of the school’s boys players missed out on a playoff, Isabella Wickenheiser from Dallas came up one shot short with a 101.

Class 2A girls

Holy Redeemer’s Brunn shot 85 for the day’s best girls score and 4 out of 6 players managed to beat the qualifying standard.

Brunn had a birdie on 16 and 3 pars while shooting 41 on the back nine.

Irelyn Karnes gave Holy Redeemer a second qualifier.

Lake-Lehman’s Abbey Beyer was second with a 93 and Julia Lewis from Wyoming Seminary was third.


For full scores of all qualifiers and the list of playoff participants, see: Wyoming Valley Conference predistrict golf qualifying scores – NEPA Sports Nation.

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