MASSILLON — Northeast Ohio has its share of elite talent with Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson, Massillon Jackson’s Landrie Grace and Cassie Pantelas, Magnificat’s Jillian Hollis, Highland’s Chloe McKinzie and Kent Roosevelt’s Nielsen sisters.
None of them came close Tuesday to matching Avon Lake junior Niki Schroeder at the Legends of Massillon Division I district tournament.
The Ohio State recruit gained momentum for the Oct. 18-19 state tournament, where she is the defending runner-up, with a dazzling 3-under-par 69 on the Legend of Massillon Golf Club’s South and East Courses.
It marks the third straight season Schroeder advanced to Columbus as an individual.
This time, however, it came attached with a gold medal.
“I can’t complain too much about a 69,” she said with a grin. “I’m not going to be too mad about that, of course.”
Schroeder began the unseasonably warm 70-degree day on the slightly longer South Course. She birdied her first two holes and never fully let off the gas.
Schroeder knew her talent was enough to carry her from there, as the final individual qualifying positions ultimately went to 79s from Medina’s Mindy Herrick and Wadsworth’s Alice Ho.
Schroeder’s Southwestern Conference champion Shoregals team (380) finished 14th.
“(The fast start) was good. That got me fired up,” Schroeder said. “Then I knew I didn’t have to push too hard. I knew I didn’t have to do anything really, really special, so it took a lot of pressure off.
“It puts a lot of confidence in your step, especially with a lot of the girls here the one’s you’re going to see at state. The best teams are here and the best individuals are here.”
Magnificat (316) qualified for state behind the strength of Hollis’ 72. With Westlake resident Ali Nageotte (84) struggling, Westlake native Cara Kelley (80) and Avon Lake resident Caroline Bello (80) stepped up to help the Blue Streaks hold off defending state runner-up Highland (318) for third.
The outgoing Bello stood out from the No. 4 position, allowing Magnificat to finish just five strokes behind champion Kent Roosevelt.
“We were hoping we’d get out, but obviously with the lowest score being a 311, it’s incredible,” Bello said. “With us being third with a 316, we’re thrilled to be going. We were definitely nervous coming in.
“I’ve been right around 85 the past couple weeks, so I really thought I was going to break through into the 70s today, but it’s a tough course. The greens here are insane.”
West Shore Conference champion Avon (343) put up a valiant effort in finishing seventh. The Eagles, who were led by Sarah Warkin (82), Anna Schatschneider (86) and Hannah Strack (86), finished four strokes behind Canfield for the final team position.
Olmsted Falls’ Ashley Gomez led the area’s individuals with an 84. North Ridgeville’s Nicole Gerome was one stroke behind, while Westlake’s Loren Kreider carded 87.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEAM STANDINGS (top 5 advance to state tournament): 1. Kent Roosevelt 311, 2. Massillon Jackson 312, 3. Magnificat 316, 4. Highland 318, 5. Canfield 339, 6. Green 341, 7. Avon 343, 8. Walsh Jesuit 347, 9. Solon 350, 10. Kenston 351, 11. Medina 351, 12. Hudson 354, 13. Strongsville 363, 14. Avon Lake 380, 15. North Royalton 388, 16. Warren Howland 421.
MAGNIFICAT (316): Jillian Hollis 72, Caroline Bello 80, Cara Kelley 80, Ali Nageotte 84, Lauren Winterhalter 104.
AVON (343): Sarah Warnkin 82, Anna Schatschneider 86, Hannah Strack 86, Annika Neumann 89, Danielle Austinson 101.
AVON LAKE (380): Niki Schroeder 69, Katie Raby 103, Emily Young 104, Summer Fleming 104, Rebecca Lyman 114.
AREA INDIVIDUALS: Ashley Gomez (Olmsted Falls) 84, Nicole Gerome (North Ridgeville) 85, Loren Kreider (Westlake) 87.
INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS: Schroeder (AL) 69, Danielle Nicholson (Geneva) 74, Jacinta Pikunas (Boardman) 75, Herrick (Medina) 79, Alice Ho (Wadsworth) 79.