No, it wasn’t the ending Abington Heights’ golf team wanted.
And the start wasn’t too great, either.
But in between, with a perfect record in league play, a postseason title and a District 2 Class 3A team championship, senior Daniel Flickinger is leaving behind a legacy that looks pretty good.
“We started off coming into the Jackman Tournament overconfident, but after that we had a meeting of the captains because we are all extremely close,” Flickinger said. “I told them, this is the year to win districts. It’s finally our chance. Everything’s lining up.
“It was three years of hardship at the district level so we were trying to get that spell undone as quickly as possible.”
This year’s early-season disappointment — the Comets finished second to Scranton Prep at the Jackman in August — not only got the team refocused, it brought them closer than any of Flickinger’s three previous seasons.
“I think it was full circle,” Flickinger said. “Two weeks before that I had been talking to the players when we were in some matches at Scranton Muni.
“I told him, for 15 days they had to put everything in that you could put in “We spent hours after practice, working extra hanging out with each other and becoming a family. So that when we went into this, we knew we were going to win this. There is no way we are losing. We had nothing to lose.
Everyone was counting us out. We went in sensing that we should show them up right now. There is no reason not to.”
It wasn’t easy. Dallas had two of the best individual players in the district and was the two-time reigning champ. But Flickinger and his teammates had something extra. They were determined, fighting the elements to get in a practice round the day before the championship match when very few golfers were out at Elmhurst Country Club.
“It definitely was not the best day for a practice round but it prepared us for the next day,” Flickinger said. “A lot of the players were voicing their opinion that they didn’t want to play. I was like, well you had better get used to it. Because it is going to be 10 times worse tomorrow morning.
“Everything is going to be tight and you are going to have to be able to play through it on top of the other mental conditions. So when we went down there, we tried to map out all these greens and play the right shots and learn how to play conservative and play aggressive, because the pins didn’t change the next day.”
It turned out to be a formula for success as the Comets, with James Flickinger shooting 74 and Daniel Flickinger carding 80, beat Dallas by seven shots.
Unfortunately, beating Dallas turned out to be the high point of the season as the team lost at the regional level and missed the state tournament by three shots.
“It was a learning moment,” Daniel said. “It was almost poetic justice because it was the exact same thing as the Jackman. Obviously, 356 is horrendous, but I think the season was largely successful in spite of what happened with that.”
It’s also leaving behind a legacy that his brother, a sophomore, expects to continue for the next two seasons.
“I think losing regionals this year is the biggest wake-up call for next year,” James said. “It taught us that we can’t be arrogant going into anything, ever. Even though we think we can, we can’t be cocky.
“And that loss is the driving force for us this winter to get better, work out everyday, take lessons, hit on the simulators, just get better.
Losing was a good thing.”
Michael Marion and Bryce Florey will be back next season, too, and the trio of sophomores will be joined by others that James sees as reason for optimism.
“We have two or three more guys coming who are under the radar this year,” James said. “They are pretty good and if they work a lot they could be shooting in the 36, 37 range with us. Our core right now is the three of us and if we keep working with each other and getting each other better, pushing each other, and after that we have another two or three guys who can come up and really help us.
“We just had so much experience this year. It was our first year for me, Michael and Bryce, and two of the other two kids Connor Vanatta and Quinn Hamilton. We all have a super tight bond. We hang out every weekend. And I think we’re going to be really good next year. We’re going to have a fighting chance.”
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