Mooney making second trip to Columbus
By Greg Gulas
When Mary Theresa Bellino made her case for the Cardinal Mooney girls golf coaching job, she laid out her plan to get the Cardinals to the state tournament.
“Last April when I interviewed with [athletic director] Don Bucci, I told him that I am going to lead this team to state one match at a time. I believed it, however I’m not so sure that he did,” Bellino said. “This team has been together for a long time and I have known them quite some time as well.
“They have a great relationship with one another and are like one big happy family, so this is going to be a special weekend for everyone.”
Representing the Cardinals this weekend will be senior Hadley Spielvogel (83.75), sophomore Jayne Bernard (89.0), junior Alexandria Patrone (93.8), freshman Alyssa Rapp (103.0) and junior Grace Ogden (103.5).
Senior Anna Mshar (105.0) rounds out the team and will make the trip but won’t compete this weekend.
Bellino assumed the reins from former head coach Stacie Butler, who spent the previous 24 seasons coaching the Mooney girls.
Under Butler, the Cardinals’ 2008 team qualified for state — also in Division II — finishing 12th overall. Individually, Katie Dick placed fifth in 2003 to earn first-team all-state honors.
“When I took this job, I believed in them then and even more so now,” Bellino said. “We must play well right off the tee, needing to keep our focus from tee to the hole.”
During the regular season, the Cardinals went 8-1, won the sectional and district titles, played four invitationals — they won one and finished runner-up once — and copped all three of their tri-matches with Ursuline and Warren JFK to win the Mahoning Valley Catholic League and a second consecutive Bishop’s Cup.
“No one is more focused on golf than Hadley, which is something you don’t ordinarily see in a high school golfer,” Bellino said. “Jayne is also very focused, practices a lot and will look to challenge to be No. 1 next season. Alexandria is the calm and storm of our team and will also challenge for the No. 1 spot next year.
“Alyssa is a freshman who along with brother, Alex (he is a senior at Poland and qualified for state as an individual), will also be at state this weekend while Grace has improved tremendously over the course of the season. She is also our most improved player this year.”
Mshar expects to be the most vocal this weekend.
“I’ve known Anna since she was 7 and she has improved greatly over the years,” Bellino said. “She also contributed to our success and it is very hard to tell someone that they won’t be playing in the biggest tournament of the year, simply because she was a big part of getting us to state.”
Spielvogel’s 82 was good enough for fourth-place at district, the top Cardinals’ finisher.
No team member has ever played the OSU Gray course.
“This means a lot to me because I am a senior and while state has always been our goal, this was my last opportunity to get there,” Spielvogel said. “We have to be on our game, relax but also have fun. We need to enjoy the moment.”
Bernard’s 91 was good enough for a three-way tie for 11th place at district.
“I’ve heard that the course is quite hard, but I am really looking forward to playing it. It is going to be a great experience for all of us,” she said. “We just need good numbers and a good short game.”
Patrone carded 98 to finish in a five-way tie for 21st at district.
“This is a surreal feeling and I am very happy to be a part of this team,” Patrone said. “I’ve seen pictures of the course and read about the yardage, so the key is to be consistent. If we play our best, then we’ll be fine.”
Ogden, who is nicknamed “Pebbles,” carded a 99 at district to tie for 26th place.
“I’ve heard the course is long and hard, so I am going to have to work on the mental aspect,” she said. “If I don’t work on that, then I’ll be in trouble.”
Rapp is the lone freshman on the team.
“I’ll have to make some driving adjustments, but everything else should be fine,” she said. “I feel like I’m a good chipper and putter, so I’m really looking forward to playing this weekend.”
Mshar cannot wait to cheer on her teammates.
“State is quite an accomplishment,” Mshar said. “Even though I won’t be playing, I’m happy to be there to support my teammates. It’s a great opportunity and will be a truly amazing experience.”