Junior Girls Golf
 by Loretta Gerber
First Tee of Canton Junior Tour Event

On Monday, July 6, 2020, the very popular First Tee of Canton Junior Tour event was played at Tannenhauf Golf Club. And that was when ‘The Wright Stuff’ was coined by The Canton Repository for Jackson High School junior Avery Wright. Avery, a two-time state qualifier, shot 76 to win the stacked girls 16-18 age group. And what makes this win and other wins so impressive, Avery has only been playing golf for four years. Prior to that time, basketball was her game, playing into middle school.

Also winning second place in the age group was Jackson teammate Abrielle Nikoladis with an 81. 

The Jackson girls golf program is arguably one of the best (if not the best) in the state, reaching the state tournament 11 out of the last 12 years through 2019. In addition to both juniors Avery and Abrielle, senior Anastasia Nikolaidis and junior Savanna Porter also return from a team reaching state in 2019. Junior Rylee Colangelo rounds out the Polar Bears team. Anastasia Nikolaidis, a first team all-county selection, has committed to play golf for the Malone University Pioneers.

Their combined skills, talent, and four returning starters should help Jackson to prevail as one of the premier teams in the highly competitive Federal League, and as the girls fondly say, ‘On to States.’
League play for high school girls golf officially started on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. On August 6, the Federal League Preseason Tournament was also played at Tannenhauf. GlenOak junior Madison Reemsnyder shot an even-par 72 for a one-shot win to continue her winning ways after shooting back-to-back rounds of even-par 70 in state competition in 2019, finishing runner-up to New Albany’s Anna Ritter with rounds of 71 and 67.  

Madison jump-started her season a few weeks earlier winning the Kenny Novak Memorial Trophy in the 16-19 age group at the Northern Ohio PGA Junior Tour Championship event at Club Walden in Aurora. She won the tournament with a two-day total of 143, which was believed to be an 11-shot record for the Junior Tour Championship.

The Federal League Preseason Tournament was the first regular season event for many of the teams, becoming the first high school sport to be played since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in March.

In mid-August, Madison verbally committed to Xavier University after visiting the campus. Prior to her commitment to Xavier, she won the Elms Sectional Preview at Elms Country Club with a 5-under par of 67, following that up with a second place finish at the Midwest Invitational with a 1-over 73.

The Hoover High School girls golf team shot an 18-hole school record 308 and won its first Stark County Championships on Saturday, September 19, at The Sanctuary Golf Club. Three members of the team shot in the 70s-- sophomore Halle Ellis 73, senior Grace May and junior Abby Blackburn with 77s to help secure the win. 

In a twist of fate though, the Vikings were originally scheduled to play in the Midwest Prep Classic in Erie, Pennsylvania, which they have played in every year since 2017 but was cancelled due to the coronavirus. In 2018, they won the two-day tournament, which has been a great tune-up to prepare for the state tournament. The Vikings were very grateful for the opportunity to enter the tournament and took advantage of their opportunity by breaking the 18-hole scoring record. They also scored a 9-hole record of 151 in a win over Perry High School in less than two weeks prior to this tournament.

Returning Hoover starters--sophomore Halle Ellis, juniors Abbey Blackburn, Campbell Young, seniors Grace May and Mattie Muckleroy--finished tied for seventh in state competition in 2019.

Although Avery Wright had a rough start playing in the Stark County Championships with bogeying three of her first four holes and double bogeying hole 8, she regrouped on the back nine with five of eight birdies to win her first county title, firing a 2-under 69.

Madison Reemsnyder admitted that she was in sort of a slump the past two weeks prior to postseason. On Tuesday afternoon, September 29, she found what she was looking for—a 1-under 71, earning medalist honors at the Federal League Postseason Tournament for the second straight year. She finished one shot ahead of Avery Wright. Green junior Samantha DeMuesy finished third with a 73. 

Talk about a dream team though—Madison played with Avery, tied at the turn with 36, Hoover’s Grace May and Green’s number one player junior Emily Liptak. Samantha DeMuesy and Emily Liptak helped lead the Green Bulldogs to win the team championship, shooting 313 to finish 10 strokes ahead of Jackson. Hoover finished in third place.

The team title enabled the Green Bulldogs to win a Federal League trifecta, which included the league’s preseason tournament and the regular season championship.

Division I Sectional Tournament—Elms Country Club—Wednesday, October 7

In team competition, the Green Bulldogs won first place with 310, followed by second place Jackson with 332, third place Hoover 333 and Louisville 335. Individual district qualifiers were Madison Reemsnyder (GlenOak), winning medalist honors with 71, Sophia Rosa (Perry) 77, Lauren Petro (GlenOak) 82 and Jill Donnelly (Cloverleaf) 83.

In addition to the sectional tournament, the top four teams and four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the district and state tournaments, respectively.

Division I District Tournament—Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club—Tuesday, October 13

In team competition, Louisville won first place with 316, Green second with 319, followed by third place Highland 330 and Jackson finishing in fourth place with 335.

In addition to being district qualifiers for the first time last year, the Louisville Leopards golf team earned their first Division I district championship to earn a berth in the state tournament. Senior Katie Bice’s 73 earned her medalist honors over Magnificat freshman Cara Heisterkamp, whose name will also be mentioned later in Division I state play. Katie’s teammates--juniors Alexis Ralston shot 75, Erin Strouse 81 and senior Madison Gruber 87. 

Hoover’s Grace May earned one of the four individual state berths with a 77.

Division I State Tournament—Ohio State University Gray Course—Friday/Saturday—October 23-24

For the third time in a row, New Albany won first place with 293-293-586. Green won fourth place with 310-326-636; Jackson sixth place with 320-328-648; and Louisville finished in ninth place with 330-343-673 out of 12 teams.

Madison Spiess, New Albany senior, shot a 1-over par to win first place medalist honors with 71-70-141.

Avery Wright shot 4-over par with 72-72-144 to tie for second place with Cara Heisterkamp, Rocky River Magnificat freshman, with 73-71-144.

Division II Sectional Tournament—Pines Golf Club—Monday, September 28

Canton Central Catholic won first place shooting a team score of 364. Individual district qualifiers were co-medalist Maria Dangelo (Northwest senior) 80, Hayley Roenigk (Woodridge senior) 87, Maria Warner (Marlington sophomore) 88 and Payton Regal (Wellington senior) 88.

Also, in addition to the sectional tournament, the top four teams and four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the district and state tournaments, respectively.

Division II District Tournament—Sable Creek Golf Course (Gold Course)—Tuesday, October 6

Canton Central Catholic earned its state berth in Division II by holding off Poland Seminary. Shaker Heights Laurel won the district title with a 366. Independence finished second at 374, Central Catholic placed third with 389 and Poland Seminary fourth at 391.

Sophomore Kristin Belden led the Crusaders with 88; junior Kaitlin Belden 92; senior Katie Bodnar 103; and sophomore Caroline Harold 106.

Division II State—Ohio State University Gray Course—Friday/Saturday--October 16-17

Lima Central Catholic won its third straight record-breaking team title with 310-320-630, finishing 53 strokes ahead of Tuscarawas Valley. In 2019, they shot 647. No other Division II girls golf team in Ohio has ever won three team titles in a row.

Jami Morris, Laurel senior, won first place with a two-day total score of 68-70-138. With a score of 2-under par 140, Jami was the only golfer in either Division I or Division II to finish under par. She also finished 5 strokes ahead of the runner-up. This was also Jami’s second state win, tying for first place as a sophomore in 2018.

Canton Central Catholic’s Kristin Belden tied for 18th place with 87-82-169 followed by Kaitlin Belden shooting a two-day score of 182, Katie Bonar 199 and Caroline Harold 198 to finish in 9th place with a team score of 748.

Our congratulations to Madison Reemsnyder, who was named the Federal League Girls Golf Player of the Year. Madison owns multiple school records playing for the GlenOak Golden Eagles. She has verbally committed to attend and play golf for Xavier University.

Our congratulations to University of Akron recruit Avery Wright, who was voted the 2020 Stark County Girls Golf Player of the Year by the Stark County Golf Coaches Association. Avery has enjoyed an outstanding season and will join GlenOak graduate All-Ohioan Jessica Hahn, who is currently a sophomore at the University of Akron, in the fall of 2022.  

We also want to congratulate Teal Harvey, who was named Stark County Coach of the Year. Teal has coached Jackson High girls golf for the last 21 years and has guided the Polar Bears to the state tournament 12 of the last 13 years.

Scholarship Co-Winners 

GlenOak High School graduate Faith Brown and Minerva High School graduate Jordan Van Meter were the recipients of SCWAGA’s Betty Kerby Peppard Scholarship, awarding $500 each. Faith is attending and playing golf for the University of Mount Union, majoring in mechanical engineering. Jordan is attending and playing golf for Tiffin University, deciding to explore the many different fields Tiffin has to offer.

The 2021 season for Stark County high school girls golfers continues to look bright and promising, especially with several outstanding returning Division I and II starters. In addition, the Louisville girls golf program has also entered highly competitive Division I by advancing to district play in 2019 and winning first place in district competition to earn a berth in the 2020 state tournament. The Lady Leopards also finished second at the Stark County Championships to add to their very successful season. 

We wish all our Stark County girls golfers the very best in 2021 and ‘On to States’ in their quest for a state championship win!