JOHN KOVACH | Colleges Zumpella committed to improving game

MEADVILLE, Pa. -- After Joe Zumpella of Allegheny College demonstrated that he ranks among the top NCAA Division III golfers in the nation as a freshman, the Struthers High graduate now is aiming to further sharpen his game this summer.
"There always is room for improvement in your short game [chipping and putting]. There are no limitations on how good you can get with your putting and chipping. That all depends on practice," said Zumpella, who tied for 13th among 120 golfers at the NCAA Division III National Championships recently, helping Allegheny to eighth place among 24 schools.
"How well I get is going to depend on my level of commitment to the game," he said.
"I'm hoping to qualify and go pretty far in the U.S. Amateur. It's great recognition."
All-NCAC: Zumpella, who made the All-North Coast Athletic Conference first team, also is planning to compete in the U.S. Public Links, the Ohio Public Links and the Ohio Amateur Public Links tournaments. His first venture will be the Ohio Amateur qualifier May 31.
In the NCAA national tourney held at Persimmon Woods Country Club in St. Louis, Zumpella fired 74-75-75-76--300, second-best on the team behind Nathan Smith, who was runner-up overall with a 1-under 283. The winner was Chad Collins of Methodist with 281.
Zumpella took a giant step in improvement this past year with the Gators, after playing for the Struthers High golf team, and is hoping to do the same for 2001-2002.
"[My] biggest improvement mainly is the way I'm striking the ball. I'm hitting the ball straighter and further with more consistency," said Zumpella.
"I have cut at least four or five strokes from my average at Struthers. The competition at the college level has forced me to work on my game, because you have to practice to improve."
Team wins titles: Zumpella helped Allegheny to win the NCAC championship as he fired a 156 to tie for fourth place. Then, he proved to be a big factor in the Gators' NCAA Division III title at the Hershey Country Club, which qualified them for national play. Zumpella was medalist the final day with 75.
His stroke average this spring for eight tournaments was 75.6 -- No. 2 on the team -- and he had a low round of 67 at Camp LeJeune, N.C.
Zumpella was joined on the All-NCAC first team by teammates Smith, a senior from Brookville High; and Dave Whitaker, a junior from Upper St. Clair High in Pittsburgh.
Smith was No. 1 in the NCAC meet with 147 and won the Bob Nye Award as tourney medalist. Whitaker tied with Zumpella for fourth with 156.
Allegheny's coach, Rick Creehan, was named NCAC Coach of the Year.
Outstanding student: Zumpella, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Clem Zumpella, is majoring in computer science and has a 3.7 grade-point average. His father is commissioner of the Metro Athletic Conference.
While at Struthers, Joe played four years of golf under coach Duke Colaprete, and was All-MAC First Team as a junior and senior. He also placed ninth in the state in the Division II tournament as a senior.
Hettrick aids B-W: Jessica Hettrick, a graduate of Hubbard High, helped the Baldwin-Wallace College women's golf team to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Division III National Golf Tournament held at the Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur, Ill.
Hettrick fired a 72-hole score of 377 on rounds of 102-99-91-85, to place 58th in the four-day tourney hosted by Millikin University.
Her 85 on the final day was the best score of her career.
B-W posted a score of 1,356. Methodist (N.C.) won with 1,201.
Hettrick played in all six of the Yellow Jackets' tourneys this year and averaged 98.8 strokes, fifth-best on the seven-person squad.
Sunseri in meet: Erin Sunseri, a freshman on the Walsh University women's tennis team from Boardman High, will be playing with her team in the NAIA National Tennis Championships that begin Monday at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Sunseri will be in the lineup at No. 6 singles, as the Cavaliers make a return trip to the national championships. They will be among 24 schools in the four-day meet.
Sunseri will bring a 15-3 record into the competition, including an undefeated mark in the American Mideast Conference.