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A special season for Palmerton golf team

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    Palmerton’s Logan Kresge follows through with a drive during a match earlier this season. Kresge is the captain of a Bomber golf team that is undefeated on the season. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published September 11. 2019 12:37PM

They are undefeated after 14 matches, and own a pair of victories over a Moravian Academy program that hadn’t suffered a Colonial League loss in nearly five years.

They are the Palmerton Blue Bombers golf team, and they adhere to the philosophy preached by coaches Alex Knoll and Mike Brennan.

“We stress that our golfers play honest and fair first,” said Knoll, who has been coaching at Palmerton for five years. “As far as the game goes, we try not to take undo risks. Keep the ball in front of you and on the course.”

Up to this point in the season — one that may lead to the school’s first Colonial League championship in recent memory — the Bombers have accomplished much more than just keep the ball on the course. The eight-man team has turned in scorecards with some very low numbers, as evidenced by a win over Moravian Academy at the Green Pond Country Club in Bethlehem on Sept. 3.

“We were down by four strokes after the front nine,” said Knoll.

The game does not play out dramatically where players go stroke by stroke through the final hole, so it wasn’t until Palmerton’s final two golfers brought in their scores that they learned they had actually won the match.

“At the end, we had two freshmen bring in their scores,” said Knoll. “Tyler Hager was the match medalist with a low score of 78 and Connor Reinhard brought in an 88. That tipped the scales for us, and we won the match by two strokes. We were honored and proud to have won against Moravian.”

Knoll raved about the fact that the Bombers have a “very deep team.” Years ago, the school might have had a dozen golfers. This year, 38 students showed interest in the team, and 24 names are on the roster. Only eight play on match day based upon scores in qualifying rounds.

“We have rotated 15 players into our matches,” said Knoll, a 26-year professional at Glen Rock Golf Club, and a 10-year math teacher at the high school. “Our team practices with diligence and our kids play with great passion for the game.”

The top four teams qualify for the Colonial League championship tournament. Right now, Palmerton (14-0, 11-0) sits atop its division and has clinched a CL postseason berth.

Other players who have contributed to the outstanding record are junior Derek Rea, senior captain Logan Kresge, and sophomores Dominic Kintz and Josh Soto.

Despite their lofty achievements, Knoll and Brennan have not set team goals because of the nature of the game that is very difficult to master on a consistent basis. Instead, Knoll looks beyond their high school years for what he believes matters more than what happens during this season.

“We would like to think that our players will want to continue to play this game for 60 or 70 years,” he said.

For now, the Palmerton golf team will focus on each swing in the fairway and every putt on the green until it finishes what might be a very special season — one that they will hopefully remember fondly if they are still playing the game in 60 or 70 years like Knoll hopes.


NETTING WINS … The Jim Thorpe girls tennis team is enjoying a stellar season, with a 9-1 overall record through Monday. While they sport an impressive mark as a team, there are some remarkable records up and down Coach Norb Lienhard’s lineup as well. The tandem of Gabby Nunez and Sophia Samoleski are a perfect 6-0 this season. Samoleski is 8-0 overall in doubles’ play, as she also won matches with two different partners (Sofia Testa and Kaitlyn Trine). Evelyn Flores and Chloe Getz own a 6-1 mark in doubles as well. Kaitlyn O’Neil (8-2), Trista Gehris (8-2) and Christy McLean (7-3) are also off to good starts this season in singles’ play.


STREAK SNAPPED … The Northern Lehigh boys’ soccer team had to wait a long time between wins. The last time the Bulldogs walked off the field with a victory was back on Sept. 28, 2016, when it posted a 1-0 non-league win over Jim Thorpe. It took 46 matches for the Bulldogs to return to the win column, but they were finally able to end that drought on Saturday when they picked up a 1-0 non-league win over Lehighton. It took double overtime to get the job done, but it had to be a good feeling for coach Jason Ruch and his Bulldogs.

With that winless skid broken, Northern Lehigh will now set its sights on another long losing streak. The Bulldogs haven’t won or tied a Colonial League match since Sept. 22, 2015 when they ended in a 1-1 tie with Catasauqua.


LEHIGHTON SOCCER EVENT ... The Lehighton girls soccer team will hold it Booster Club Night on Thursday, when the Indians host North Schuylkill at 6 p.m.

All Lehighton Area Soccer Club youth players are invited to attend the game as the Indians’ guest. The LASC players will line the field for the varsity introductions just before the start of the match.


TITLE WEEKEND … The Panther Valley volleyball team grabbed the first tournament championship of the season. The Panthers rolled off 12 wins in a row to knock off Elco in the semifinals, and Lancaster Catholic in the Ephrata Invitational Tournament over the weekend. Jenna Dubosky sparked the Panthers’ attack with 41 assists, 35 kills and 12 digs, while Olivia Dacey also came up big with 26 kills and 18 digs.


COUNT US IN … The Lehighton golf team clinched a spot in the Schuylkill League playoffs for the first time. The Indians missed out on the postseason in each of their first four years in the league. The Indians are currently 7-2 in the league (7-5 overall) and second in SL Division I play. In front of them is Blue Mountain, which has defeated the Indians twice this season.


SEEING DOUBLE … Pleasant Valley and Pocono Mountain East battled each other Monday night in boys’ and girls’ soccer. Both contests went to double overtime, and both finished in a tie. The Bears and Cardinals played to a 1-1 tie in the boys’ game, while a 0-0 deadlock was the result in the girls’ contest.

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