Central Catholic came out of a scrum a year ago to win the WPIAL Class 3A team golf title by one stroke.
This year at Cedarbrook Golf Club in Belle Vernon the Vikings had a little more breathing room, though, as they finished with 386 Thursday to defeat Peters Township by five strokes and win their second consecutive championship.
“There are so many good teams in the WPIAL and in our section,” Central Catholic coach Corey O’Connor said. “It was a tough day for us because our kids are so close with the Fox Chapel kids and with what happened [Wednesday], it was hard for us to focus.”
Fox Chapel, the 2016 WPIAL Class 3A runner-up and Central Catholic’s Section 4 rival, won a semifinal Tuesday at Linden Hall. But four members of the Foxes team were involved in a severe car accident Wednesday morning and none participated in the final.
“We really made the decision to play or not to play based on the condition of the kids involved and the parents out of respect,” Fox Chapel coach Bryan Deal said. “Everybody had some input on it and what to do and, if it had been more serious and threatening injuries, then we would have not considered being here.”
Of the students who were injured in the accident, only 2016 WPIAL Class 3A individual champion Gregor Meyer, who had minor injuries and stitches, was able to be present but did not play. Without the starters, Fox Chapel came in sixth (last) with 426.
“Once the dust settled, it was unanimous to come here and represent our program and those who could be here could carry the banner and represent us,” Deal said. “They did a great job just representing us for 18 holes and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Even without Fox Chapel in the mix it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk for Central Catholic to repeat. It became more of a challenge as the Vikings and Peters Township back-loaded their lineup. The Indians’ Hunter Bruce, a Penn State recruit and 2015 WPIAL champion, played in the final grouping with Central Catholic’s Jimmy Meyers, who shot a 77.
“Coming in, I knew they were back-heavy and so were we and Jimmy usually makes a few more birdies than he did,” O’Connor said. “We knew Hunter was coming and we had to make sure we were a few more strokes off because he did shoot a great score  and that’s how great that team is.”
Central Catholic wasn’t the only repeat winner in the boys division.
In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Sewickley Academy won its fifth consecutive Class 2A crown with 406. Quaker Valley (413) finished second.
“These guys have worked so hard and we graduated so many great players the last couple of years and they wanted it so badly and wanted to continue the tradition,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “All of the credit goes to them because they persevere and had a great season.”
It wasn’t only the boys who had repeat winners in both classifications.
North Allegheny’s girls took their third consecutive championship in dominant fashion as two-time WPIAL individual champion Caroline Wrigley shot a 2-over 73 and fellow junior Christina Lewis a 76 to help the Tigers to a team-total of 315. That mark was 14 strokes better than their winning score from 2016 and 42 strokes better than second-place Fox Chapel.
“This one kind of meant a lot because last year we had such an ugly time here and … even though we won, we could never really celebrate winning last year because it wasn’t pure,” North Allegheny coach Mike Hambrick said. “This time, nobody’s complaining, they all know we’re the best team and that’s what I like and we are.”
In Class 2A, Greensburg Central Catholic became the second team to win three consecutive titles as the Centurions shot 357 for an eight-stroke edge over Sewickley Academy. Junior Abby Zambruno shot a 6-over 77 to lead the Centurions. The low round of the day went to 2016 WPIAL champion Kiaria Porter (76) of Central Valley, which finished third.