There are several outstanding girls golfers returning from the 2021 season in the Stark County area.  Among the top ten to watch are: Central Catholic senior Kristen Belden, Hoover senior Halle Ellis, Central Catholic senior Caroline Harold, Hoover senior Hannah Higgins, Hoover sophomore Ava Kemp, Marlington sophomore Zoe Mort, Lake senior Kate Potashnik, Green senior Ava Pulley, Lake Center Christian senior Leah Starcher, and Marlington senior Maria Warner.  

Before the official season started on Thursday, August 4, though, Hoover senior Hannah Higgins won the girls 16-18 age group with a two-day total of 156, just enough to hold off Green senior Emily Liptak by two strokes, in the First Tee of Canton 53rd Annual Schorsten Memorial Junior Golf Tournament played on Monday and Tuesday, July 18 and 19, at Raintree Golf & Event Center Country Club.

Zoe Mort won her fifth consecutive tournament on the tour with a two-day total of 152. Zoe shot 74 on Tuesday to help her win by 18 strokes in the 13-15 division. 

Junior Girls Golf 
2022
by Loretta Gerber
Halle Ellis Record-Setting Day
Hoover's Halle Ellis shot a 3-under-par 32 to tie the Vikings' nine-hole scoring record in a win over the Jackson Polar Bears at Arrowhead Golf Club on Wednesday, September 7.  In addition to Halle's record-setting day, Hoover's team score of 147 was also a school record for nine holes.

Ava Kemp Record-Setting Day
But as everyone knows, records are only meant to be broken, and that's exactly what Hoover's Ava Kemp helped the Vikings do a day after breaking their team score of 147 with a 2-over-par 146 for a six-stroke win against Sugarcreek Garaway at the Black Gold Golf Course.  Ava shot a team low 1-under-par 35 to help the Vikings break their 9-hole scoring record for the second straight day.

Stark County Girls Golf Championships—Sable Creek Golf Course (Maroon & Black---par 36) (Gold--par 35), Saturday, September 17
Central Catholic's Kristen Belden and Marlington's Maria Warner tied with 75 after 18 holes.  Kristen won in a playoff against Maria to claim medalist honors.  Lake's Kate Potashnik placed third individually with a 78 to help her team win the team championship with 330.  The top four teams out of 12 were:  Lake (330), Marlington (341), Jackson (365), and Massillon Washington High (378).

Federal League 2022 Standings
The Hoover Vikings went undefeated in their regular season and won first place in the Federal League. They were followed by Lake, Green, Jackson, GlenOak, Perry, and McKinley.

Federal League Postseason Tournament, The Elms Country Club (par 72), Thursday, September 29
Hoover's Hannah Higgins won medalist honors with a 4-over-par 76 to help her team win the postseason tournament by 13 shots.  It was a tough day for scoring at The Elms.  The only other golfer to break 80 was Lake senior Amanda Fedor.

Team results are:  Hoover 331, Lake 344, Jackson 351, Green 372, GlenOak 402, and Perry 454.

Division I Sectional Tournament—The Elms Country Club (par 72)—Tuesday, October 4
Qualifiers: Top 4 teams and 4 individuals not on a qualifying team
The Hoover Vikings were led by medalist Ava Kemp, who shot a par 72, to help her team win first place with 331.  Halle Ellis shot 84, Hannah Higgins 89, Kylie Porter 86, and Alyssa Evans 94.  The lowest four scores are used to determine the final score.  A note of interest though is that Alyssa Evans, Ava Kemp, and Kylie Porter are all sophomores.

Lake won second place with 338, marking the first time since 2003 the Blue Streaks qualified for the district tournament as a team; Green placed third with 351 led by Ava Pulley, who shot 75, and fourth Jackson with 352.  Marlington didn't qualify for district play, finishing fifth with 362.  Marlington's Zoe Mort did advance to District I competition individually with 78.  Prior to  2022, Marlington competed in Division II.

Division I District Tournament—Brookledge Golf Club (par 71)—Thursday, October 13
Qualifiers: Top 4 teams and 4 individuals not on a qualifying team
It was a wild weather kind of day players experienced at Brookledge during the Division I district tournament which included rain, a soggy course, temperatures in the 50s and winds exceeding 25 miles per hour at times.  Despite the difficult weather conditions, the Vikings got off to a good start with Ava Kemp leading the way with 76.  Teammates Hallie Ellis and Hannah Higgins added 81 and 83, respectively, with Kylie Porter rounding out the scoring with 91.  The Vikings finished in the top four and earned a trip to the state tournament, finishing third with a score of 331.

Rocky River Magnificat finished in first place with 317.  Junior Cara Heisterkamp led Magnificat with a one-over-par 72 to claim medalist honors.  Medina Highland finished second with 328, Hoover third with 331, and Nordonia fourth with 334, all securing a berth to the state tournament.  Lake finished seventh with 356 and Jackson eighth with 364.

Top four individuals not on a qualifying team were:  Green senior Ava Pulley (78), Solon senior Kaitlin Kormuth (78), Cleveland St. Joseph Academy sophomore Gianna Reginelli (79), and Avon senior Aubrie Rush (80 playoff).

Division I State Tournament—Ohio State University Gray Course (par 70)—Friday-Saturday, October 21-22
12 Teams, 72 Individuals 
The Centerville Elks won their second state title after their eighth straight trip to state, edging Dublin Jerome by just one stroke (613-614).  The Elks won their first state title in 1995.  Centerville dethroned four-time defending champion New Albany, who placed third with 621, followed by fourth place Medina Highland with 627.  The Hoover Vikings finished eighth with 665.

Individually, Cincinnati Mercy McAuley senior Kylee Heidemann won medalist honors with 141.  Dublin Jerome senior Audrey Ryu finished runner-up with 143.  Audrey won the individual title in 2021. 

Division II Sectional Tournament—The Pines Golf Club (par 72)—Wednesday, September 28
Qualifiers: Top 4 teams and 4 individuals not on a qualifying team
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary finished first with 352, followed by Canton Central Catholic second with 387, Canton South placed third with 410 to earn a district berth for the first time in team history, and Columbia finished fourth with 444.

Central Catholic's Kristen Belden shot 77, just three strokes behind West Salem Northwestern senior Kylee Purdy, who won medalist honors with 74.

Lake Center Christian's Leah Starcher earned an individual district berth, finishing fifth with 86.

Division II District Tournament—Sable Creek Golf Course (Maroon & Black--par 36) (Gold--par 35)
Thursday, October 6
Qualifiers: Top three teams and three individuals not on a qualifying team
Independence finished in first place with 361, followed by second place Gates Mills Hawken with 363, and Akron St. Vincent- St. Mary won third place with 379 to advance to the state tournament.  Canton Central Catholic finished in fourth place with 386 and Canton South in twelfth place with 466.

Three individuals not on a qualifying team:  United junior Mati Zines won medalist honors in a playoff with 77, Ravenna senior Abbie Retherford second place with 77, and Laurel junior Siena Maschke in third place with 79.

Division II State Tournament—Ohio State University Gray Course (par 70)—Friday-Saturday, October 14-15
12 Teams, 71 Individuals 
Gahanna Columbus Academy won first place to capture the Division II state tournament by surpassing Sugarcreek Garaway by 23 strokes (647-670).  This was Columbus Academy's second appearance in the state tournament and its first Division II state title.

Garaway has made nine appearances in the state tournament, and this was Garaway's first runner-up finish.  Saint Vincent-Saint Mary finished fifth with 716.

Gates Mills Hawken senior Ella Wong became just the fourth female golfer in OHSAA history to win back-to-back state titles.  She won the Division II state title by edging second place Crooksville senior Riley McKenzie (153) by just one stroke (152).  Garaway junior Sammi Miller shot a 155 for a third-place finish.

Stark County Girls Golfer Player and Coach of the Year
Our congratulations to Marlington's Maria Warner, who was selected the Stark County Player of the Year by the Stark County Golf Coaches Association! 

Her accomplishments are many, which include All-Ohio status as a junior with her fifth place finish at Ohio State's Gray Course in 2021.  In addition, she helped lead the Dukes to two state appearances playing for Coach Shawn Dillon.  She was also named 1st Team All-County, Tri-County Player of the Year, and Eastern Buckeye Conference Player of the Year.  She has set school records for most birdies in a season, lowest 18-hole round, lowest 4-year average for 9 holes and lowest 9-hole season average.

Maria will attend and play golf for Malone University and plans to study business.  She'll be joining former high school teammates Erica Headley and Jayden Mitchell.

Coach of the Year--Our congratulations to Hoover High coach Scott Snyder, who was voted the Stark County Coach of the Year!  He coached the Vikings to the Division I state tournament, finishing in eighth place.

SCWAGA Scholarship Co-Winners
Perry High graduate Sophia Rosa and Hoover High graduate Campbell Young are the recipients of SCWAGA’s Betty Kerby Peppard Scholarship, awarding $500 to each recipient. Sophia is attending and playing golf for Walsh University and Campbell for Glenville State University.

Sophia is pursuing a degree in nursing.  Campbell is majoring in athletic training and sports management.

Since 1999, SCWAGA has awarded 39 scholarships, mostly in the amount of $500, to eligible graduating senior girls golfers. Our Scholarship Application is available on our website at scwaga.com for further information.

High School Girls Golf in 2023
We would like to acknowledge Massillon Washington High's fourth place finish in the Stark County Girls Golf Championships and Canton South's third place finish in the Division II sectional, which earned the Wildcats a district berth for the first time in team history.  We wish both schools continued success in 2023!

The Stark County area has been blessed with talent that continues to grow and grow in high school girls golf as is evidenced by a couple of statistics:  The Hoover girls golf team has qualified for the state tournament 7 times since the year 2000.  And the most times an area program qualified for the state tournament since 1993 when girls golf became an OHSAA sanctioned sport--well, that honor belongs to the Jackson Polar Bears coached by Teal Harvey with 14 appearances.  The Polar Bears won runner-up finishes in 2010, 2011, and 2014.

The one statistic that will be coveted the most though is winning a state tournament in either Division I, II or both.  Hopefully, that statistic will be written for the history books in 2023!