Canfield’s Michelle Whiteleather, left, and Lianna Tucci talk as they walk during their golf match against rival Poland on Wednesday at Diamond Back Golf Course in Canfield. The Cardinals defeated the Bulldogs, 175-194.
Loomis shoots 39 in Canfield’s win
By Ryan Buck
The high school sports rivalry between Canfield and Poland is storied and intense.
Their annual clashes on the gridiron and basketball court are locally televised, fuel back-and-forth pranks, and see the victors carry away the schools’ shared trophy signifying supremacy for that sports season.
No less important, but perhaps understated, is the friendly competition the two schools share on the golf course.
Another chapter played out Wednesday afternoon at Diamond Back Golf Course as the Canfield girls golf team defeated visiting Poland, 175-194.
“To play and compete against Poland is always a big match and a big rivalry. It’s extra special,” Canfield coach Diane McCall said. “I’m sure they came to the golf course knowing that.
“It’s fun to have a win when it’s truly a win. Poland’s provided such a vehicle.”
Canfield sophomore Kerra Loomis’ 39 was the day’s low round and propelled the win. Michele Whiteleather (43), Lianna Tucci (46) and Olivia DeMartino (47) were the final three qualifying scores.
Rachel Sines and Melinda Hannon carded 41 and 43, respectively, to lead the Bulldogs. Rachel Jeswald (52) and Mary Hunt (60) followed.
The Poland program, under coach Judy Young, also relishes the competition with their adversary, but it’s perhaps more pleasant than anything else and mutually beneficial.
“Diane’s kind of nurtured me a little bit,” said Young, who’s in her 11th year at the school. “When I came on, she was a really good role model as a coach, helping us all promote and grow our programs. It’s been fun watching that rivalry and, yet, the girls are friends. That’s what’s fun about watching this sport.”
McCall’s program fields one of its strongest teams in years and has high expectations. Canfield is 7-1 outside of the All-American Conference’s American Division and 5-0 in league play.
“This group of girls has really gelled together and has been a team in that they’ve worked hard all winter long,” McCall said. “If they play well and play the games that they can play and are capable of, I feel that we have a chance possibly to first get out of sectionals to districts. I feel we should get that far. Districts-to-state, I am optimistic if they all play the game that they can play.”
Canfield claimed the Metro Athletic Conference and newly-formed AAC titles for 10 consecutive seasons before the Bulldogs’ program turned the corner in 2008.
They split the conference crown in 2008 before Poland reeled off back-to-back AAC titles in 2009 and 2010. They shared it again in 2011, with each winning at their home course.
Young’s squads, led by current Indiana Hoosier Maria Mancini, earned the 2008 state title before three consecutive second-place finishes. After unprecedented success, they’re transitioning to a new crop of golfers.
The Bulldogs are 5-3 and 2-2 in the conference.
“I’m proud of what the kids are doing,” Young said. “I’ve only asked them, every time they walk out on the course, to try to beat the score from the night before. Definitely if you play the better teams you tend to play better and you learn from them and I think that’s plus- plus for everybody.”
While Wednesday’s round goes to Canfield, it’s anybody’s guess what can happen next season and beyond. For this rivalry, that would only be fitting.