Manheim Township dominated Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One golf so thoroughly through four tournaments this season that it perhaps had much of the league all but conceding the team championship to the Streaks.
Then Sept. 17 happened.
At Overlook for the Section One finale, the 20-time L-L champions put an uncharacteristically high 326 on the board — 13 shots over their season average, and higher than three other teams shot the day before at a Section Three meet at Foxchase Golf Club.
Maybe the door has been kicked ajar just enough for another team to waltz in and take the L-L championship, set to begin at 9 Monday morning at Foxchase.
Or maybe a little pumping of the brakes is in order.
The scenario facing the teams gunning for Township is not quite USA vs. the Russians at Lake Placid.
Do they believe in miracles?
“If we play well, we can contend,” said Mike Chiodo, coach of Section Three runner-up Lampeter-Strasburg, which posted a 313 team score Sept. 16. “But Manheim Township perennially is near or at the top. I expect them to be very tough to beat. We found some kids who can play, but will they continue to play well on Monday? We’ll just have to see.”
Taking in the entire body of work, the Streaks, seeking their 10th straight league title, remain the heavy favorite in the eight-team field, which includes L-S, Cocalico, Octorara, Warwick, Lancaster Mennonite, Pequea Valley and Garden Spot.
L-S’s effort, plus unbeaten Section Two champion Warwick’s 321 and Section Three champion Cocalico’s 324 at Foxchase on Sept. 16 got the attention of Steve Brenner, the still-confident Streaks coach.
“I've been watching. The scores were noticeable,” Brenner said. “Everyone has bad rounds and we happened to have one last Tuesday. But we played great during a practice round (Thursday), so I think we're all right.”
Led by sophomore Conner Strine and his 75.20 scoring average, the Streaks enter the tournament with a league-best 313.8 scoring average. Anchored by sophomore lefty Gehrig Harsh, the Pioneers own the second-best team average at 325.5, four shots better than the Eagles, who have two hot players at season's end, junior Ammala Moua and sophomore Trey Rios.
There are players capable of going low at the top of every team in the field, sometimes two. In Township’s case there are four or five, Sean Cliff (77.3), Graham Calhoun (78.8) and Hamilton McNaughton (80.8) among them. The Streaks are deep, and in high school golf, the difference-makers are usually the No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 players. The top four of six scores will count for each tram.
“I push that on the kids all the time,” Chiodo said. “The 1s and 2s can't win it for you. It's the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s that are key.”
Strine heads the field of 74 qualifiers challenging for the league individual boys title. Other contenders include sophomore Sawyer Marten of Hempfield, who has carded three straight 77s and is averaging 76.2 for the season, Cliff, who'll play with a brace to protect a healing fractured wrist; Calhoun, senior Josiah Nissley of PV (77.3, 75.5 over last four tournaments), Lancaster Mennonite senior Jonathan Glick (77.8) and Solanco freshman Logan Wagner (78.2).
Moua is seeking her second L-L girls title. She followed a 76 in her penultimate round with a 75 last Monday. She is sixth among all league individual leaders with a 78 average. With an 82.7 season average, Katie Lapinsky of L-S poses a threat.
Advancing on to the District Three tournament on Oct. 1 at Briarwood Country Club in York will be one Class 3A team, one Class 2A team, the top 20 3A boys individuals and top seven 2A individuals. The 2A teams in the L-L are Lancaster Catholic, Annville-Cleona, Northern Lebanon, Lancaster Mennonite and Pequea Valley.
All girls shooting 104 or better in the league meet qualify for districts.