BOYS GOLF: Sophomore Gignac qualifies for PIAA West Region golf tournament

MEADVILLE – Andrew Gignac is advancing, but it wasn’t without a nervewracking ending.

The thing is, this Warren Area High School sophomore must have nerves of steel, and he is moving on to PIAA West Region competition on Oct. 16 at Tom’s Run in Blairsville.

Gignac shot an 18-hole 76 on Tuesday at the District 10 Class AAA Championships, finishing second – and the top two of 18 advance. This is the first time since 2002 that a Dragon advance; that was Mine Bancroft.

In all, three Dragons qualified for districts, and all three are underclassmen. Junior Nathan Sandberg finished at 86 and tied for 10th, and sophomore Anthony Deppas 93, tied for 16th.

For Gignac, it was hole number 17 that proved his mettle on a course that “suits his game,” he said.

“(The Country Club of) Meadville is a course that benefits the person in the fairway and around the greens, something Andrew is always god at… accuracy,” said Warren coach Dan Passmore.

On 17, Gignac’s tee shot “wasn’t the best approach,” he said, and his second shot was left of the green.

Worst case, Gignac would end up with a five on the hole. But he chipped in for a par-3.

“That definitely gave me a lot more confidence going into the last hole,” said Gignac.

He birdied No. 18 – his third birdie of the day – for a 76, three shots ahead of Ryder Gignol of McDowell and Jack Kloecker of Cathedral Prep. Prep’s Andrew Britton shot a 1-over-par 73 to win the Class AAA title, and advance.

Gignac was in Britton’s group, which he said helped.

“Going into the day, I was a little nervous, but as the day progressed I got into the round a little bit,” said Gignac.

Hole 17 “was huge,” said Passmore. “He knew the last place he wanted to be was over (the green), but he chipped it in, hitting an absolutely gorgeous shot. He could have had a good four or probably a five, but ended up with par. Then he birdied 18.

“Just to make it to the next step is a great experience,” said Passmore, “and he’s got two more years to build on.”

In Class AA, which had eight golfers advance to the West Region, Titusville’s Matt McCord won by two strokes with a 75.