MASSILLON — The only thing more blistering than the unseasonably warm 70-degree weather Tuesday was Hallie Schuld’s number on the scoreboard.
The Highland girls golf team’s No. 5 was the breakthrough star of the Legends of Massillon Division I District with a 6-over-par 78, helping the Hornets (318) qualify for the Oct. 18-19 state tournament at Ohio State University’s Gray Course for the fifth consecutive year.
The defending state runner-up will be joined by Wadsworth’s Alice Ho and Medina’s Mindy Herrick, who shot 79s and had to bear an agonizing three-hour wait to learn their fates.
“I’m really excited to go to state because I’m really excited to get to play down there,” said Schuld, a state alternate last season.
With junior Chloe McKinzie leading the charge with a 74 that was tied for fifth individually, the Hornets still needed three more solid scores to hang with fellow Northeast Ohio superpowers Kent Roosevelt (311), Massillon Jackson (312) and Magnificat (316).
Freshman Madison Butler (82) and senior Rachel Horvath (84) stepped up, but Schuld stole the show.
The junior broke 80 for the first time in her career. She caught fire down the stretch with a 36 on the 2,569-yard South nine a year after filling in for an ill Karly Alexander at the same event.
Schuld’s previous varsity best was an 81 at the Lexington Invitational on Aug. 9.
“Everything was working on the back nine,” she said. “I had a chip-in on the third hole on the back, so that was exciting, and I had 10 putts on the back. I was just putting it close. My irons were good and my chipping was really good.
“It’s a lucky course for me.”
Meanwhile, McKinzie continued to prove why she belongs in the conversation as one of Northeast Ohio’s best.
Like Schuld, the smooth-swinging three-year starter dominated her final nine. McKinzie’s 35 on the South trailed only Avon Lake’s Niki Schroeder (36-33—69), an Ohio State recruit and the defending state runner-up medalist, for tournament low.
“I’m really proud of what we did,” McKinzie said. “We did what we wanted to and we’re going to state. We’re excited.
“I started off a little rocky. I didn’t think I was going to play that good, but eventually on the back nine my chipping and putting really came into play.”
The good times didn’t quite have the same feeling for Medina (351), which was without four-year starter Amanda Rom (back) and finished 12 strokes behind Canfield for the final team spot.
The Bees did make history, though, in the form of Herrick.
The bubbly pint-sized freshman put on a composed front despite having to endure serious scoreboard-watching after being the first player to complete her round.
Even if she didn’t qualify, her smile was noticeable because she knew she competed with the best the area had to offer.
Now, she’ll join Rachel Brakeman, a second-team All-Ohioan in 1994, as the only Medina individuals to compete in Columbus.
“I’m pretty excited right now. I can’t believe it, really,” said Herrick, who hit 12 greens and 10 fairways to overcome struggles on par-3s. “I’m so excited to go down as a freshman because I’ve worked so hard for so long.”
“It is (disappointing the team didn’t advance), but we tried our hardest.”
Meanwhile, Ho was cool, calm and collected even after shooting a score she knew was going to be iffy. Had Canfield not held off Green (341) for the final team position, she and Herrick would have squared off in a playoff.
The second-team All-Ohioan qualified for state easily as a junior, took the final qualifying position as a freshman and missed it by one stroke as a sophomore. The tense downtime was certainly nothing new for one of the most prolific players in Medina County history.
The dust finally settled around 5:30 p.m. — well after Ho kept focused by spending time on the putting green.
“It feels really good because it’s my last year to make it right, so I’m glad I got to advance,” Ho said. “I did have seven three-putts, so I can work on that. My shots were really good. They weren’t off.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or email@example.com.
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