Wallenpaupack Area's varsity links team overcame youth & inexperience to post yet another 10-win season in Lackawanna League action. Coach Bob Simons' Buckhorns went 10-5-1 for the year, qualifying for the play-offs once again.

Just a week before the start of the 2009 high school golf season, Bob Simons sat down with TWI?Sports to preview his team.

Wallenpaupack Area’s Hall of Fame mentor has been at the helm for nearly four decades. He is the Dean of Lackawanna League coaches and the winningest golf guru in Pennsylvania history.

In fact, midway through this season, Coach Simons recorded the 500th win of his illustrious scholastic career. He’s the first PA skipper ever to reach that number...as was the case six years ago when he hit 400.

Not So Fast, My Friend
Still, with all of these credentials and the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime on the links, Bob Simons can still be fooled.

“This will definitely be a re-building year for us,”?he said in August. “We’re very young and inexperienced. I don’t know if we’ll win more than five or six matches this season.”

Now, if you know Coach Simons, those are the kind of predictions you take with a grain of salt. Paupack has never experienced a losing season in the Bob Simons Era. The numbers just don’t lie.

Over the course of 39 years, Coach Simons has accumulated a mind-boggling 507-173-18 record. That translates into a .726 winning percentage.

Paupack finishing below .500 is unthinkable...and, despite all the gloomy pre-season predictions, the Bucks came through once again.

The local lads closed out an-other winning campaign. Paupack went 10-5-1 this year and qualified for the Lackawanna League play-offs. Although the Bucks were bounced in the opening round, Coach Simons was still pleasantly surprised.

“I?guess I was a little bit off with my prediction,” he said with a chuckle. “We had an excellent year. This was really a pleasant surprise. The kids worked hard and improved every week. As a coach, that’s all you can ask.”

One Last Match
Even after all the other local teams were done for the season, Paupack was still out there on the links.
The Bucks traveled to Skyline Golf Course in Carbondale to take on St. Rose Academy in a non-league match. The result was a clean sweep for the Bucks, 6-0, and their 10th win of the fall.

Eric Miller led the charge in this one. Still just a freshman, Miller fired a round of 40, good for medalist honors and a 4&3 win over St. Rose’s Andy Ford.

Kane Kellogg also turned in a strong effort. The sophomore went around in 41 and handed Zach White a lopsided loss.

Junior Chris Cassel carded a 43 in his victory over Joe Marchese, while Max Trainor and Dave Relph posted identical rounds of 46.

Mike Avissato sealed the deal on this shutout by shooting 47 and defeating Jake Evans.

“We played well,”?said Coach Simons simply. “St. Rose is a very young team and they’re just getting that program going.”

St. Rose Academy is located in Mayfield. The Phoenix won its first-ever regular season golf match this year, posting a narrow decision over the Mountain View Eagles.

Final Totals
Kellogg was this year’s most consistent player for Paupack.

Kane posted an outstanding overall record of 12-2-1 (8-2-1 in the Lackawanna League). Kellogg’s stroke average per nine holes was 43.43.

He qualified for the District Two tournament, was named a Second Team All-Star and finished third at the 2009 Wayne County Commissioners’ Cup.

Brad Harsche also turned in a solid season for the Bucks.

A junior and near-constant presence in Paupack’s line-up for the past two seasons, Harsche went 9-3-2 overall and 8-2-1 in the league. Brad averaged 44.1 strokes per nine holes and was named a Second Team All-Star.

Despite a roster dominated by underclassmen, a quartet of seniors played a major role in Paupack’s surprising season.

Gary VanOrden, Jon Larkin, Mike Avissato and Jen Curnal each made major contributions to the Buckhorn cause.

VanOrden posted a 7-6-1 record this fall (6-4-1) in the Lackawanna League. Larkin won six regular season matches, as did Avissato.

Curnal proved to be the focal point of Paupack’s blossoming girls’ team. Jen won both of her varsity starts and put together a season average of 47.

She also qualified for the D-2 tourney and earned a medal at the Mid Valley Tournament, where she placed sixth in the overall standings.