Mooney girls get ready for state golf

The Cardinal Mooney High School girls golf team is hoping the experience gained in the Division II state tournament last season will be of use when it returns to the Ohio State-Gray Course to compete on Friday and Saturday.

“A lot has changed in the past year,” coach Mary Theresa Bellino said. “We have four girls going back who know what the course is about and who competed on that stage last year. But last year, they all relied on our leader, Hadley Spielvogel. But she graduated and these four didn’t have anywhere to turn but themselves.

“They all stepped up to help compensate for the loss of Hadley and they’ve all had strong seasons. So I know they want to go in there and improve on what they did as individuals last year and on what we did as a team last year.”

The Cardinals placed sixth at state last season (737), with Spielvogel (169) tying for 20th in a field of 72 golfers.

Leading the way this season have been junior Jayne Bernard and sophomore Alyssa Rapp, who tied for fourth with 84s in the district tournament Oct. 1 at Sable Creek Golf Course. Bernard is averaging 88.6 over 18 holes with Rapp at 90.2.

Seniors Alexandria Patrone (94.3) and Grace Ogden (97.6) have followed. Freshmen Daniella Patrone and Sarah Owens round out the squad.

The Cardinals carded a 355 at district to tie Shaker Heights Laurel, but lost the fifth-player tiebreaker to officially finish runner-up.

“We’ve been thrilled with the way things have worked out and all of the girls improving,” Bellino said. “Last year, our goal at state was to not finish last, anything but dead last. So we left a marker and we want to beat that this year. It’s been an excellent season, so there’s nothing to lose at this point. I think we’re better prepared and more confident. We’re going to go in there with the same approach we’ve had all season — ‘we’re not showing up to play; we’re showing up to win.'”

Another change could be the weather. While the weather was the same for all involved last season, Bellino believes there may be better scoring opportunities this weekend.

“Last year the weather was brutal,” she laughed. “We got down there and things changed fast. We wore winter caps and ear muffs and used hand-warmers. We were changing our clothes on every hole and using layered clothing.

“So we’ve already taken a look ahead at the forecast this year. It appears as though we’ll see temperatures in the upper 60s on Friday and in the lower 60s on Saturday, with a chance of rain on Saturday. But you never really know.”

Brookfield will be competing in the Division III boys state tournament for the fourth consecutive season and will be joined Friday and Saturday at the Ohio State-Scarlet Course by Newton Falls junior Brandon Gibson.

The Warriors are led by seniors Conner Stevens, Justin Atkinson and Jake Shingledecker. Sophomores Kenny Montgomery and Cameron Wellman complete the lineup. In the district tournament Oct. 3 at Tannenhauf Golf Club, Stevens was medalist with a 72 and Atkinson was second with a 73. Shingledecker posted 81, which tied for eighth, as Brookfield placed second (329) behind Canton Central Catholic (315).

Gibson shot 80 at district to tie for sixth overall. He became the No. 1 individual qualifier from Tannenhauf by winning a first-hole playoff with a par.

“Brandon is an A student, is ranked high in his class academically and the teachers love him,” said Scott Kernan, an assistant coach at Newton Falls who will guided Gibson through Thursday’s practice round and Friday’s first round. “He’s an outstanding student and an even better young man.”

Coach Seth Howard, who works for the Ohio Highway Patrol, has mandatory training and is unavailable until Saturday’s second round.