joins sister at state
By Greg Gulas
Poland residents Eric and Lisa Rapp will be busy parents this weekend when they travel to Columbus for the Division II boys and girls state golf championships.
Their daughter Alyssa, a freshman at Cardinal Mooney High School, is a member of the Cardinals team that qualified for state and she is set to play today and Saturday on Ohio State University’s Gray Course.
They’ll also need to make time to root for son Alex — a senior at Poland High School — who became the Bulldogs’ first boys individual qualifier since Mark Passarello accomplished the feat in 2012.
It will mark the second straight trip to state for Rapp, who also qualified when the team played at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury last season.
Like his sister, both siblings will be playing OSU’s respective courses for the first time.
“We qualified last year as a team and while we didn’t do as well as we had hoped, it was a great learning experience. I’m hoping to build off that and do better this year,” Rapp said.
Rapp’s two-day 172 total last year was tied for 53rd overall. He improved his averages this year to 37 for nine holes and 77 when he plays a full round.
He shot 74 at districts last week to finish in a three-way tie for top honors with Dylan Fitchet of Ashtabula Edgewood and Jack Gole of Gates Mills Hawken.
Fitchet won the playoff, Gole finished second and Rapp third, but Rapp is using last week’s effort as a springboard for state.
“Last year it was my mentality,” he said. “I put up a high number both days on the opening hole, got down and wrote myself off. I’ve worked a lot on my game this year, especially on the mental aspect so I am ready to go.”
Head coach Dave DiGiacomo, who is in his 18th season, believes Rapp is ready.
“The experience last year combined with this year’s district tournament bode well for Alex,” DiGiacomo said. “He’s expecting to do better than last year and I’m expecting him to do better as well. Over the course of the season, he’s played a great front nine but has been challenged on the back nine, so I was really proud of the great round that he played at district.”
Rapp helped lead the Bulldogs to an undefeated 14-0 league mark as they captured the first Northeast 8 Conference title. He finished runner-up at the conference championship and placed in the top three in three tournaments this season.
He said DiGiacomo has been an excellent coach and teacher during his four letter-winning seasons.
“Coach is always positive, not just with me but everyone on the team,” Rapp said. “He helps me out mentally and it’s very reassuring to have a coach that is always there for you.”
According to DiGiacomo, opening the season by winning the JFK Invitational gave all of Poland’s plahyers confidence and set the tone of their season.
“This team was built on a senior group of players who absolutely love playing the game. Alex is our co-captain, a stat guy who is very analytical and always looking to get better,” DiGiacomo said. “This team pushed one another, always worked as a group on their games and loved practicing together, which is why they are a very special group.
“A lot of kids like to play, but special players like to practice and that’s the characteristic of not only Alex, but his teammates as well.”
Rapp echoed his coach’s assessment about this year’s team chemistry.
“We’re a close team, they’re all my best friends and when we play together, usually at The Lake Club, we push each other,” he said. “That’s how we have become better players.”
As far as the course and field, Rapp said he is ready to go after an excellent week of practice.
“I’ve heard that the course has deep bunkers and I’ll get a chance to see everything during [the] practice round,” he said. “I know a few of the players, especially Dylan [Fitchet] from last week’s district playoff. He’s a great competitor and I am looking forward to a fun experience.”
Rapp will tee off today at 10:40 a.m.