By RYAN BUCK
There’s no place like home.
Canfield youth golf flexed its muscles Monday at the familiar
Diamondback Golf Course with five residents among the top seven
scorers in the Greatest Golfer of the Valley juniors competition
presented by Farmers National Bank.
Three of the four total qualifiers, including Michele Whiteleather and
Gina Cerimele from the 15-17 age group, attend Canfield schools.
“It’s pretty strong,” Cerimele said of its golf program. “We go to a
pro... we go to the (Creekside Golf) Dome in the winter to practice.
We’ve already started practices with the team and we’ll go have
putting practices together.”
The locals found confidence amidst the pastoral hills and woods of
their high school home, despite the very hot and dry conditions
plaguing the Valley golf community lately this summer.
“Knowing where to place your ball really did help because if I hadn’t
played the course before, I’m sure it would be much harder,”
Players had to adjust to the conditions with high ball flight and
careful approaches to the pins.
“When you’re coming on to the green, you have to hit it in front of
the green so that it gives it time to roll or else you’re over,”
Whiteleather, who shot an 89, was strong on Diamondback’s par- three
holes and particularly happy with her performance on the difficult par
“I hit my drive to about 50 yards away from the green. Then I just
chipped on a two- putted. That was a good hole for me.”
For the second week in a row, a tie- breaker was needed in the
competition. Teammates Cerimele and Kerra Loomis, also from Canfield,
went to an extra hole to decide the second finals participant, as
customary at the course.
A clearly tired Cerimele scrambled her way to a six on the course’s
first hole to qualify.
“It felt really good. I’m not that great under pressure so I was
really happy about it,” she admitted. “I didn’t really think about
anything, just staying in my own head and not worrying about too
Also at the top of the leader board, defending Greatest Golfer
champion Jacinta Pikunas led the way with an 80. Christina Cooper was
two strokes behind, followed by Howland native Rachel Williamson’s 88.
Melinda Hannon of Poland was also near the top with a 90.
Cooper, Williamson, and Hannon all qualified at previous events while
Pikunas, a home- schooled Canfield resident, will miss the Greatest
Golfer finals with a previous golfing tournament conflict.
Another play- off hole was necessary in the 12-14 year- old division.
Sarah Brindley of Howland bested Gillian Cerimele to finish first in
the group, with both having already qualified for the July 21st
finals, where Gillian joins her older sister, Gina.
The boys’ divisions of the Greatest Golfer of the Valley will tee off
Thursday at Diamondback at 8AM with a field of over 40 players.
Interested players from The Vindicator’s coverage area may call the
course at (330) 533-0350 by close of business today to register.
They’re vying for spots in the July 21 finals alongside last week's Tam O’Shanter of Pennsylvania qualifiers: Bill Colbert, Brian Austalosh, Nicholas Braydich, Cade Kreps, Rosy Hearns, Rachel Williamson, Emily Koehler and Abby Hearns.
All the qualifiers and other tournament news and information can be found at vindy.com/golf and on Twitter @vindygreatest.
Here were Monday's players:
Through four events, here's who's qualified for the July 21 finals at Trumbull Country Club.
• PINE LAKES: U17: McQueown, Jason; Standohar, Evan; DePasquale, Gina; Hannon, Melinda; U14: Standohar, Mark; Shushok, Joe; Ladig, Skyler; Carpenter, Kaci.
• MOHAWK: U17: Carano, Dom; Matasy, Matt; Cooper, Christina; Butler, Cait; U14: Jacobson, Zach; Keller, Ken; no new girls qualifiers.
• SALEM GOLF CLUB: U17 Boys - James Lapolla, Nathan Garofalo; Girls - Rachel Sines, Haleigh Guerrero; U14 Boys - Brian Terlesky, Joey Passerotti; Girls — Kaylee Neumeister
• TAM O’SHANTER: U17 Boys - Billy Colbert, Brian Austalosh; Girls - Rosy Hearns, Rachel Williamson; U14 Boys - Nicholas Braydich, Cade Kreps; Girls — Abby Hearns, Emily Koehler
Boys can sign up for the Thursday event thru Tuesday by calling Diamondback.
Greatest is in Year 3. It is presented by Farmers National Bank and The Vindicators, and sponsored by Stadium GM, Cole Valley Cadillac, Mark Thomas Ford, New Castle School of Trade and MyLoop golf cards.
All info can be found at vindy.com/golf.