Rogers Class A medalist, paces Madonna golf to second-place finish
WHEELING – As the sun was still at its peak, Michael Rogers stood on the tee box of the Par 4, No. 10 hole at Oglebay Park’s Speidel Golf Club.
There’s a deep drop-off from the tee toward the hole with majestic trees showing their fall colors lining the fairway. It’s a perfect picturesque view.
“It’s breathtaking, really,” Rogers said, not necessarily of the scene in front of him, but of winning the West Virginia SSAC Class A state golf tournament.
“It feels great,” he added. “I knew I could play better from the day before and I concentrated, was relaxed and pulled it off.”
Rogers, a Weirton Madonna senior, Wednesday helped lead the Blue Dons to a third-straight second place team finish in the state tournament. They were bested only by Charleston Catholic, again, for the third-straight year. The Fighting Irish shot 473, compared to 483 by Madonna.
“We had the whole team back and so did Charleston Catholic,” said Madonna coach T.J. Brancazio. “We keep making a run at them and we made it a little closer this year.”
The Irish have come in first or second as a team every year since 2006. Madonna won the team state title in 2010, when Andrew Goblic won the individual medalist.
Rogers tied for the lead with Charleston Catholic’s Aaron Persley after Day 1 of competition with a 77. He topped that with a 75 on Wednesday.
“The kid that was tied with me was playing with me and we fed off each other’s shots,” Rogers said. “We knew where we were standing during the tournament and we played pretty well together.”
A birdie on the Par 3, No. 13 hole gave Rogers a three-stroke lead with two holes to play.
“I really turned it on from there,” he said.
Madonna’s Alex Colantino shot a two-day total of 164 and finished tied for sixth place overall. His 78 was eight strokes better than his score on Day 1.
“I think the first day is hardest because if you play well you come in a little nervous about the second day,” Colantino said. “I actually was more calm (on Wednesday) because I had a goal and knew what I had to do.”
Rogers actually entered the season as the Blue Dons’ No. 3 player, while Colantino was No. 1.
“Last year, I kind of struggled in the beginning and he kind of picked me up,” Colantino said. “I figured it was my job to pick him up, this year, because he struggled in the beginning and it worked.”
Nick Mazur shot a 167 for the Blue Dons, while Thomas Gianni had a 93 on Tuesday and Matthew Lyons had a 92 on Wednesday.
“We made a change at the four-man spot to give him some experience,” Brancazio said.
Though Madonna graduates three seniors, Brancazio says there is still talent coming back with Anthony Bazell, Hunter Payne, Mazur and Lyons returning.
“I still think we can be as good,” he said. “It’ll be tough losing our top guys, they were fantastic all year and throughout their whole careers. They grind and keep plugging away and I think that will stick with the younger guys.”
Added Rogers, “We just keep breeding golfers in Weirton.”
Rogers plans to play golf in college, though his choice for school is still unclear. Colantino plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh and major in engineering before going on to law school.
Wheeling Park’s Cole Hand shot a 73 on Wednesday to secure his second-straight medalist title for Class AAA. That helped lead the Patriots to the team title with a 472.
(Matthew Peaslee is a sports writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @thempeas Twitter account.)