June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Girls golf: The reigns end in the rain

COLUMBUS — The weather was miserable, yet the scores were still respectable.

Outside of Wadsworth senior Alice Ho, however, it wasn’t a memorable Saturday for Medina County girls golfers at the Division I state tournament.

Wadsworth’s Alice Ho watches her tee shot on the 18th hole. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY AARON JOSEFCZYK)

Ho recorded the area’s lowest score with a 10-over-par 80 on Ohio State University’s Gray Course and tied for 17th. Medina freshman Mindy Herrick finished her first state appearance deadlocked in 41st, while Highland (689) rebounded slightly but couldn’t get out of ninth.

Dublin Jerome (622) leapfrogged Magnificat (640) to win its third consecutive title, and the Hornets’ chief rival, Massillon Jackson (632), was runner-up for the third time in the last four years. Columbus Bishop Watterson’s Erin Harper took medalist honors with a 145.

“It was really cold and rainy, but it was nice to experience that coldness,” Ho said. “I’ve never experienced that, so the next (college) tournament I play in that kind of weather, I will know how to handle it.”

“It was pretty bad,” Highland’s Chloe McKinzie added. “(The course played) so much longer. It made it really tough with the rain being really streaky.”

Competing in her third state tournament, Ho was two strokes out of All-Ohio status heading into the 45-degree morning that featured early rain and bone-chilling wind as the sun headed west.

The status quo remained for the senior. Fourteen players earned first- or second-team recognition due in large part to a five-way tie for fourth, but Ho’s two-day 158 couldn’t match Kent Roosevelt’s Kasey Nielsen, Dublin Coffman’s Kylie Raines and Youngstown Boardman’s Jacinta Pikunas for the final spots.

“I’m just so happy that I made it,” Ho said. “(Saturday’s) conditions were really different from the last two years that I’ve been there.”

Ho’s round began strong on the back nine, as she played even from holes 12-18. The highlight was a birdie on the 298-yard 14th, where the right-hander striped the fairway and stuck a 46-degree wedge within 5 feet.

The momentum didn’t last. Ho took four straight bogeys to start the front, though she was thrilled to par the 388-yard ninth and walk off the course with a smile.

“I made a big putt — it was a 20-foot putt for par,” she said. “I was like, ‘Yes, it was the center of the cup.’ I knew it was going to go in.”

The defending runner-up Hornets put themselves in a major hole after a first-round 346. Their goal was to make up the 14 strokes necessary to reach the top six, but they couldn’t get much going on the mud-choked 5,800-yard layout.

No. 1 McKinzie led the way with an 84 that was followed closely by freshman Madison Butler (85). Rachel Horvath (86) knocked four strokes off her first-day score, while Hallie Schuld (88) capped the scoring.

The Hornets particularly struggled down the homestretch with a 179 on the back to finish 24 strokes behind sixth-place Kent Roosevelt.

“As a team, we could have done better, but I think we came out here and we did our best,” Butler said. “It was a hard weekend, but I’ll be looking forward to next year.

“It motivates us (returning players) a lot. We always try to improve every event, and next year will be a new year with two new people coming up (Christina Williams and Alicia Porvasnik). So, we’re excited to see how we do.”

McKinzie tied for 32nd in the 72-player field, followed by Butler (T-41st), Horvath (48th), Schuld (T-49th), and Karly Alexander (T-57th).

Though Highland took a larger step backward than they wanted, it didn’t damper the careers of Horvath and Alexander, who both competed in two state tournaments.

“This year has been really fun,” Horvath said. “Obviously we didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but I can’t say more about my team. I love them so much. They’re awesome, we’ve had a lot of fun and we’re all here for each other.”

Herrick made a serious charge initially with six pars for a 38 a turn, which was the day’s seventh-lowest score on the back. She then faded following a triple-bogey on No. 2.

Herrick’s 172 (85-87) still tied for sixth among the tournament’s 19 freshmen and sophomores.

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

Albert Grindle About Albert Grindle

Albert Grindle is a sportswriter for the Gazette. He can be reached at 330-721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.