Whiteleather, Cerimele advance in Greatest juniors


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,”

Whiteleather explained.

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,”

Cerimele explained.

Whiteleather, who shot an 89, was strong on Diamondback’s par- three

holes and particularly happy with her performance on the difficult par

four 16th.

“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:


Hannon, Melinda

Cooper, Christina

DeMartino, Olivia

Pikunas, Jacinta

Larimer, Abby

Loomis, Kerra

Williamson, Rachel

Whitleather, Michelle

Hall, Katie

Pipino, Marisa

Lacich, Nicolette

Cerimele, Gina

Hardick, Bailey

Eddy, Alexis


Cerimele, Gillian

Carpenter, Kaci

Brindley, Sarah

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.

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