By ryan BUck
After four years of seeing their female counterparts bask in the attention of a trip to the state tournament, the Poland boys golf team now has its own representative.
Mark Passarello is the first Bulldog to qualify for the state golf tournament as an individual under coach Dave Digiacomo, who has led the Poland program for 12 years.
The Poland sophomore tees off Friday in the first round of the Division II State Championships at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course.
“I actually don’t know the history too well,” Passarello said. “[Digiacomo] hasn’t really told me too much, but from what I’ve heard it’s been a while since anyone from the guys golf team has went down there, as an individual or as a team.”
He did, however, share a practice round and some advice from a state tournament veteran.
Passarello and Poland junior Rachel Sines, who will be playing on the Gray Course in the Division II Girls State Championships, are friends.
“We’ve talked about it,” Passarello said of their tournament expectations. “We’ve gone down to the athletic director [Brian Banfield] and talked about what’s going on. We went down to the Lake Club and played together just to get a little practice round in.”
The golf course was the obvious place to get some swings, yet relax before their big weekend.
“We played out there, hit some balls, went to the putting green, the chipping green,” Sines said. “We just helped each other with some competitions. We did some putting drills to get each other ready.”
The school honored the two with a send-off before the tournament. Passarello and Sines paraded through the hallways lined with their classmates.
Sines was excited for the event. Passarello, more laid-back in his demeanor, took it in stride.
“It was nice,” he said. “It was kind of awkward, but I’ve never done that before. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
His easygoing attitude is one of his strong suits playing a game so mentally demanding. It was evident at the district tournament at Windmill Lakes in Ravenna.
“To control the nerves and his golf game as well, playing as well as he did today with a 74, I think it’s quite an accomplishment,” Digiacomo said after his pupil’s second-place finish. “He’s a laid-back kid. He takes things as they come and I think that’s a great attitude, especially when you play this game.”
Passarello’s emotional strengths are supplemented by his game, which is peaking at the right time, from tee to green.
“Right now it’s my long game and my putting,” Passarello said. “I used to get in trouble with my first shot and not be able to recover from wherever I’d end up. It’s been better to where I can get in better position for my short game. My putting’s been great which obviously helps if I get in trouble in the sand or a chip shot.”