By Ryan Kaczmarski
After going a perfect 12-0 overall, and 8-0 in the West Shore Conference, playing all the way to the Northeast District finals in 2012, the Avon High School girls golf team is looking for someone to knock them off the top of the mountain.
“The 2013 season will be an interesting one for the Lady Eagles, as for the first time in four years, they will not have the top golfer in the WSC leading the way,” Avon head coach Frank DeSmit said. “However, despite losing three-time WSC player of the year Kaitlin Newmann, the Eagles still return a talented and experienced group, as each of the top four golfers received All-WSC recognition in 2012. Sophomores Sarah Warnkin and Anna Schatschneider were both first team WSC last season, and they seem to have picked up right where they left off, as they both tied for medalist in the first tournament of 2013.
“Joining them in the lineup are senior co-captains Hannah Strack and Taylor Doehne, who were both elected to the WSC second team last year.”
Filling out the varsity squad are seniors Hannah DeSmit and Lisa Wallace, while sophomore Jessica Novotny and freshman Annika Neumann will also see varsity time.
The Bay High School team will be the first squad to try to take the WSC crown from the Eagles. The Rockets finished second in the conference last season, with a 4-2 record (10-7 overall).
“Avon is going to be tough to beat in the WSC,” Bay head coach Joe Cheney said. “Also, competing in the Division I sectional is always a challenge.”
The key returnig letter winners on the Rockets’ roster are seniors Kelsey Reilly and Betsy Weber (captain); and junior Nicole Lyons (captain). Key newcomers are junior Liz Burns, sophomore Holly Fox and freshman Lydia Strickler.
“Seniors (Reilly and Weber) bring great leadership and chemistry to this young team,” Cheney said. “They will keep morale up and will be critical in the development of the team. They are both natural leaders and great teammates.”
The rest of the roster are sophomore Irirni Kazanas and freshmen Reilly Gorby, Hannah McCoy and Claire Jennings.
“This year will be all about patience, confidence and development,” Cheney explained. “We will learn to play our own game, within our strengths, and getting better every match and hopefully peaking at the end of September.”
The North Ridgeville High School team will be led by sophomore Nicole Gerome, who recently competed in the Southwest Junior Golf Tour’s Founders Cup Championship, where she finished third overall in the girls 13-15 division.
Gerome is a solid player, coming just one stroke behind Avon’s Neumann in head-to-head competition last year.
The Rangers are also looking to seniors Kelly Wisniewski and Ye Jung Moon to be leaders on and off the course.
The Rocky River High School squad is looking to improve on last year’s winless conference season, in which the Pirates finished 0-8 (2-13 overall).
“(Last season) we played three girls with varsity match experience (two seniors and one sophomore), while the others rotated between two sophomores and three freshmen,” Rocky River head coach Rick Haag said.
The key returning player is Pirates No. 1 golfer Julia Gentner, but they are also looking for low scores from newcomers junior Jesse Koberg and sophomores Andreana Dingess and Amanda Hanson.
“We are looking forward to the leadership and match experience of Julia Gentner to help in match and practice roles,” Haag said. “Also, sophomore Carrie Tianello has been looking solid in our practices; showing great improvement from last season.”
The Pirates roster is filled out by juniors Grace Combs, Emily Pawluk, Kathryn Reig and London Weston; sophomores Brianna Gorenc, Amanda Hanson and Makena Satareka; and freshmen Julie Olivo, Olivia Sullivan and Jessica Zucker.
“We are young and are willing and ready to improve on the game,” Haag said. “We are not afraid to take our lumps during the early part of the season, as we prepare for the WSC championship in September and districts in October.
“We’re very excited about the 2013 season and looking forward to making positive improvements in every match we play this year.”
The Avon Lake High School team was also perfect last season, in its run through the Southwestern Conference, finishing 12-0 (16-1 overall), but four-year letter winner Corynn Krieg has been lost to graduation.
With that being said, the Shoregals still have the best golfer in the SWC in junior Niki Schroeder, who has made a verbal commitment to play college golf at The Ohio State University. She took second place at the OHSAA state finals last year and is a two-time conference MVP.
Other returning letter winners are seniors Emily Young and Rebecca Lyman; and junior Katie Raby. Avon Lake has eight newcomers this season, including promising freshman Sarah Lucas, who has had strong showings in her first two varsity matches.
The rest of the Shoregals roster are sophomores Summer Flemming, Emily Goss, Addison Reimer, Kelsey Schillinger, Erin Shreve and Sarah Winkel; and freshmen Abby Hawkinson, Abbie Linick, Alexis Loebick and Megan Tywman.
“Having one of the best girls in the state is a huge asset,” Shoregals head coach Kevin Fitch said. “Our other girls have to work to really improve. We should have good experience, with a blend of young upcoming talent.”
Westlake High School took second place in the SWC last season with a 7-5 record (12-5 overall), and also finished second at the SWC tournament.
“We had a really successful season last year,” Demons head coach Traci Edmunds said. “The girls came in second place in the SWC tournament, we came in second place overall in the conference, took fifth place in sectional tournament and had two of our players make it to districts.
“We lost three girls last year, Sarah Bates, Ally Adornetto and Barbara Bobal. Ally and Sarah were our captains and Sarah played in our No. 2 spot. It’s definitely hard to replace three great girls and golfers, who started or were the captains for your team last year.”
The Demons have gone into this season with four key returners, and a cast of newcomers, who will be expected to improve swiftly.
“Loren Kreider, Jordan Labroo, Julia Button and Elise Illius are all returning lettermen and starters for me,” Edmunds said. “We also have newcomers Katie Nagel, Erin Brown and Bethany Hartmann this year. I’m excited to have this group.
“Loren Kreider has been our No. 1 player for the past couple years and she does a great job carrying our team and putting up great scores to help us. Julia Button and Jordan Labroo are capable of shooting in the low to mid 40s, and continue to improve there game. Elise Illius has worked really hard in the offseason and has dropped multiple strokes off her game to show her potential on this team.”
According to Edmunds, the team’s youth gives it great potential for success.
“All the girls can hit a long ball and have knowledge of the game,” she explained. “I think the girls have such a great relationship with each other and have worked really hard in the off-season. They know when they need to step up and pick each other up if one is having an off day on the course and they all take responsibility. It’s a lot of fun to coach a group of girls who love to play together and get along so well. It makes every season enjoyable for me and them.”
The North Olmsted High School team is looking to improve from its 2012 record of 6-6. The Eagles will have to do it without first team All-SWC golfer Katey Hull, who was lost to graduation.
“Junior Leah Sladky will be counted on to play like a No. 1 golfer on our team,” North Olmsted head coach Tony Naples said. “Also returning are seniors Liz Rodman and Allison Behrendt, who need to have breakout seasons for us to be contenders in the league.
“Junior Claire Masterson is playing very well and sophomore Delaney Mooney is greatly improved,” he continued. “Freshman Rachel Sladky could end up the best freshman in the league by the end of the season, if she keeps working hard on her game.”
Olmsted Falls High School did not respond in time for this story.
Magnificat High School competes in the Northeast Ohio Independent Schools Girls Golf League, where it finished in second place last season, and went on to take first at sectionals, second at districts and seventh at the state championships.
The Blue Streaks have a new head coach this year in Rick Norris, but they return the core of last year’s team. The key returning players are Jillian Hollis, Ali Nageotte, Cara Kelley and Kaitlyn Trutza.
“We expect to be led by Jillian and Ali,” Norris said. “Both spent the summer playing in national junior tournaments. Jillian had a particularly successful spring and summer with several wins and high finishes.”