October 31, 2014

Medina
Showers
40°F

All Gazette: Refined mentality led Hornets’ Jessica Porvasnik to D-I state golf title

The awards were piling high in her Hinckley Township bedroom and the commitment to Ohio State was made after an exhausting search up and down the East Coast. Still, there was one thing missing from Jessica Porvasnik’s resume: A Division I state championship.

It was the only link needed to an otherwise incredible high school career by the golf machine out of Highland. Though the game she loves doesn’t always reward the best player, wearing that gold medal was a burning desire in Porvasnik’s heart.

Highland senior Jessica Porvasnik is the 2012 Gazette MVP for girls golf. (PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RON SCHWANE)

What makes the first four-time Gazette MVP in Medina County history tick is her will to be great. Second is for losers. There’s only room for one at the top of the mantle.

Porvasnik was already mentally tough well beyond her 17 years. Looking back at a first-round 81 that forced her to rally at the 2011 state tournament, she felt that wasn’t good enough.

GolfTEC instructor Nick Paez, who was recently named “One of America’s Best Young Teachers” by Golf Digest, showed her that was the problem. Never look back. Always look forward.

The results spoke for themselves.

“I never used to think, ‘It’s not your swing,”’ Porvasnik said on her way to a tournament in North Carolina. “It’s about your thought process to a shot. He’s really worked with me on thinking positively more so, and when you get over the ball, just keep those thoughts in your head and know it’s going to go in the hole.

“Never look back. It’s looking forward when you have bad holes.”

Porvasnik proved why she was Buckeyes coach Therese Hession’s No. 1 recruit from the class of 2013. She tied the D-I state tournament record with a 68-72-140 on Ohio State’s Gray Course, won medalist by a convincing seven strokes and helped the Hornets to within one shot of the team title.

It capped a marvelous senior season in which Porvasnik was 11-under-par over 21 events that covered 315 holes. Her highest round was 2 over, and she broke par 11 times, including a Medina County-record 4-under 31 in a match against Green and a 4-under 68 to win her third consecutive Suburban League Tournament.

Further illustrating her two-plus seasons of amazing dominance, Porvasnik was 4 under over the final 718 holes of her career.

“I’ve hit some of the best shots I’ve ever hit and been so consistent shot-wise,” she said. “When I got over every shot, I thought, ‘This is going to be a birdie.’ I was trying to go as low as I could. I was just so confident.”

The difference was Porvasnik’s slightly different demeanor. After rounds, she rarely spoke about the motivation from the past — a staple of Highland players after finishing eighth, fourth and third at state in Porvasnik’s first three years — and almost always had her sights set to the future.

It was a transformation of sorts. Find a bunker, immediately envision out how to blast it within inches of the cup. Slice a drive, immediately envision how to save par. Miss a putt, immediately envision a birdie on the next hole.

The mentality was in Porvasnik’s bag, just not in complete form. It was simply refining a component of her game, and that’s how people who play arguably the world’s toughest mental sport reach the big stage.

“It was more mental,” she said. “You can’t be thinking, ‘This is going to break’ as you stand over a putt. You have to be confident going into it. You take a thought that’s going to give you confidence, and you think about that. Like Happiness.

“This is a lot to think about, but once I tried it, I was like, ‘Oh, I like that.”

The most amazing and now-overlooked part of Porvasnik’s journey? Her aunt, Becky Wieseler, and grandfather, Ray Wilk, taught her to play just 59 months ago.

That journey is far from over. Next season, Porvasnik will trade her Highland green and black for Ohio State scarlet and gray. The Buckeyes are historically the Big Ten’s juggernaut, and show no signs of slowing down.

After that, the LPGA Tour is set squarely in Porvasnik’s sights.

Coach Mary Becker instilled into Porvasnik at an early age to dream big or don’t dream at all.

Porvasnik wouldn’t have it any other way.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.