September 3, 2014

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Golf: Avon Lake freshman Niki Schroeder moving on to state

MASSILLON — Niki Schroeder had reason to be nervous.

The Avon Lake freshman knew her 5-over-par 77 at the Division I district tournament at The Legends of Massillon was solid. What she didn’t know was whether or not it was solid enough to advance to next week’s state tournament.

So she waited, hit the range with Shoregals coach Kevin Fitch, and waited some more. Avon Lake was one of the first teams to reach the clubhouse, so there was plenty of time to ponder, “What if?”

Eventually, tournament medalist Jessica Porvasnik of Highland began walking Schroeder’s way with a huge smile on her face. At that moment, Schroeder knew she was joining her in Columbus.

“She’s one of my really good friends, so it was good to have her here and supporting me,” Schroeder said with a smile.

Schroeder had to survive fourth and fifth scores from Strongsville and Walsh Jesuit. If either team upended Brecksville (332) for the fifth and final team berth, a 70 by the Bees’ Halley Morell would be thrown into the individual mix.

That would have forced Schroeder into a playoff against Kent Roosevelt’s Kelsey Nielsen, who holed out on her final hole from just inside 100 yards for a 77.

It didn’t happen as the Warriors (334) and Mustangs (335) fell just short.

“Having to go to a playoff is a lot of pressure because only one makes it out, but I had to stay calm and just got through my routine,” Schroeder said. “I started off well, and I got to 8 and 9 and I three-putted both of them, but I knew I had to get over the slump. I knew that there were more holes to play, so I had to keep going and get the momentum going again.”

Schroeder’s achievement was a nice consolation prize for the Shoregals, who finished 13th out of 16 teams with a 370. Corynn Krieg had an 83, while Mallory Koeth (98) was the only other player to break 100.

“We can all play better, of course, but I think we played well,” Schroeder said. “We finished the season good.”

West Shore Conference champion Avon (372) was singing a similar tune after finishing 14th.

The Eagles were led again by junior Kaitlin Neumann, who finished three strokes off an individual berth with an 80. Taylor Doehne (95), Mary Dickson (98) and Amanda Emery (99) were next in line.

“We go into each golf season with the idea that if we make it to districts, it’s been a pretty good year for us,” said Avon coach Frank DeSmit, whose team was competing in its third straight district tournament. “We see the talent you have on the teams that make it to state, so I would say — being realistic for us — I’m not sure that we’re quite at that level yet.

“We had high hopes for Kaitlin. She came up a little bit short today, so hopefully she can take it a little bit higher and get there next year.”

Team standings (top five advance to state tournament): 1. Massillon Jackson 302, 2. Highland 311, 3. Magnificat 320, 4. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin 328, 5. Brecksville 332, 6. Walsh Jesuit 334, 7. North Canton Hoover 334, 8. Strongsville 335, 9. Canfield 339, 10. Stow 352, 11. Geneva 356, 12. Kenston 365, 13. Avon Lake 370, 14. Avon 372, 15. Green 388, 16. Hudson 398.

Individual qualifiers: Mackenzie DiPietro (Hoover) 71, Testita Garcia (Bedford) 75, Danielle Nicholson (Geneva) 75, Kelly Nielsen (Kent Roosevelt) 77, Niki Schroeder (Avon Lake) 77.

Avon Lake (370): Schroeder 77, Corynn Krieg 83, Mallory Koeth 98, Bridget McCoy 112, Taylor Browns 113.

Avon (372): Kaitlin Neumann 80, Taylor Doehne 95, Mary Dickson 98, Amanda Emery 99, Hannah Strack 105.

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.