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2023 High School Boys Golf Preview

2023 High School Boys Golf Preview


By Susan Jenior

Staff Writer

Today is the second day of the high school golf season and Portage County teams already have tournaments and matches scheduled as they prepare for conference play and a hopeful run to the state tournament to end the season.

The early start makes sense because many golfers have been honing their game throughout the summer and are ready to take on high-school matches and tournaments immediately.

Portage County boasts several golf teams with an impressive history in the sport of golf and this season proves to be no different for teams that reload rather than rebuild.

High school boys with an impressive resume from the summer and previous seasons will be found leading their teams, including Max Devins of Aurora; Liam Curtis of Kent; Lucas Butler of Mogadore and James Morgan of Southeast.

The boys high school golf previews include what the Coaches expect of their teams this season and are a reminder of the top players from 2022 that have graduated with many continuing to play golf in college.



Mascot: Greenmen.

Coaches: Gus Mehallis, Craig Murray.

Home Courses: Club Walden, Aurora; Barrington Golf Club, Aurora.

Conference: Suburban League American Division.

Last Year: Third place in league.

Returning Lettermen: Max Devins, Ethan Slagle, Gannon Brady, Wilson Brainard and Cameron Phillips.

Not Returning: Jude Abbass.

“I will miss him greatly,” said Mehallis.

Depth: “Max Devins is expected to be the star and the captain of the team,” said Mehallis. “He has had good summer experience.”

Expectations: “It is hard to predict my expectations,” said Mehallis. “Our tryouts are the next three days and Aurora has seven to eight new players.”

19th Hole: “I am very excited to have Craig Murray, NOPGA Hall of Fame member, back as assistant coach,” said Mehallis. “He is a great player and instructor. Todd Casabella, one of the top instructors in the nation, will be our volunteer assistant.”


Mascot: G-Men.

COACH: Doug Engelhart, 2nd year, 21-12 career record.

Home Course: Sugar Bush (6,182 yards).

Conference: Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Grey Division.

Last Year: 12-5 overall, 10-2 MVAC.

Returning Lettermen: Landen Gedeon, sr.; Dillan Paul, jr.

Not Returning: Liam Mielcarek, Danny Ensinger.

Depth: Tyler Baczkowski, sr.; Caleb Sheer, soph.

Expectations: “We expect to continue to build on our success from last year and hopefully compete for the conference championship once again,” said Englehart.

19th Hole: Liam Mielcarek is playing for Hiram College and will be coached by former G-Men golfer James Workman.



Mascot: Rough Riders.

Coach: Ben Curtis, 2nd year.

Home Course: Windmill Lakes Golf Club, Ravenna (par 70).

Conference: Suburban League American Division.

Last Year: 1st place in league.

Returning Lettermen: Liam Curtis, Christian Mineo, Rowan Baynes, Jack Puhalla.

Not Returning: Five total, including a pair of letterwinners.

Depth: “We should have all four returning letterwinners playing in starting five on the varsity team,” said Curtis. “Several incoming freshmen and last year’s JV players should get some varsity time at some point to provide great experience for the younger players.”

Expectations: “Kent looks to compete for the championship again in the Suburban League and, as each player improve their scoring average, Kent can compete to qualify for districts,” Curtis said.

19th Hole: Liam Curtis’ finishes in summer tournaments include: Tied-9th at Hudson Jr. and Ohio Jr.; 2nd place at Golfweek Jr Tour. at Univ. of Michigan and 3rd at Golfweek Jr. Tour at Marshall Univ.

Christian Mineo and Rowan Baynes competed in Northern Ohio PGA Junior tour events and with several personal bests scores in tournament play.



Mascot: Wildcats.

Coach: Chris Mossa, 18th year.

Home Course: Paradise Lakes Country Club, Suffield.

Conference: Portage Trail Conference.

Last Year: 15-3, 1st place in the PTC, 1st place Division III Salem Sectional, 5th place at district.

Returning Lettermen: Lucas Butler, Kyle Gardner, Tristyn McCaman, Jude Thiry.

Not Returning: Dillon Pendergast, Seth Baglia.

Depth: Max Shannon, Jackson Lanham, Ryan Rorrer, Noah Hopkins.

Expectations: “We have a good mix of experience and youth,” said Mossa. “The Wildcats expect to compete for the league title and a return trip to the district.”

19th Hole: Three-time PTC Player of the Year, Dillon Pendergast, has graduated and is now playing Division I college golf at Cleveland State University.


Mascot: Ravens.

COACH:  Terry Kekic, 16th year; 130-104 career record.

Home Course: Windmill Lakes Golf Club, Ravenna.

Conference: Metro Athletic Conference.

Last Year: 10-10 overall record (4th place); 2nd at MAC Tournament.

Returning Lettermen: Jason Tanner.

Not Returning: Abbie Retherford, Marcus Gibson, Landon Skilton, Jacob Champ.

Depth: Not much, according to Kekic, who said he has four — maybe five — golfers.

Expectations: “This year is a total rebuild,” said Kekic. “Only one team member has ever been on a golf course before. The returning letterman averaged 76 for nine holes last season.  It will be hard this season to break 215 as a team in a nine-hole match. We will do the best we can, and I will remain positive all season.”

19th Hole: Ravenna will be hosting The Yank Heisler Memorial Invitational again at Windmill Lakes Golf Club. The event is scheduled for Aug. 9, with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. A total of 27 teams will compete in this year’s tournament.


Mascot: Rovers.

COACH: Keith Waesch, 27th year, 422-118 career record.

Home Course: Sunny Hill Golf Club, Brimfield (5,919 yards, Par 71).

Conference: Portage Trail Conference.

Last Year: 15-7 overall record, 5-5 in PTC (3rd place).

Returning Lettermen: Austin Biggin, sr.; Audrey Francis, sr.; Luke Flowers, jr.

Not Returning: Carson Flowers, Cole Hostetler, Lane McKenzie, Mitchel Weber.

Depth: “We will be relying on some new faces to fill out our varsity lineup this fall due to the graduation of four seniors,” said Waesch. The following golfers will be vying for varsity playing time: Derek Schindler (Sr.), Joe Weaver (Sr.), Anthony Cambareri (Jr.), Trentan Sines (Jr.), Aidan Dixon (So.), Caleb Stevens (So.), Jake Wenzlawsh (So) & Ryan Wolf (So.).

“We have two seniors (Schindler and Weaver) that will be with the program for the first time,” said Waesch. “The two seniors, along with our returning sophomores and juniors, should provide for some interesting competition during our qualifying rounds in early August.”

Expectations: “Our season is going to rely on how quickly the addition of four players adjust to varsity golf,” said Waesch. “Austin Biggin and Luke Flowers have had some good rounds this summer, and Audrey Francis may play solely with the boys team this fall. So we are going to see how all of these pieces fit into the puzzle in the next few weeks.”

19th Hole: Cole Hostetler, the sectional-tournament medalist at Riverview last fall, will begin his freshman season with The University of Detroit Mercy men’s golf program in a few weeks. He will participate on scholarship for the Division-I program.



Mascot; Pirates.

Coach: Mike Jenior, 7th year.

Last Year: 6-6 overall; 5-5 PTC (4th).

Conference: Portage Trail Conference.

Home Course: Olde Dutch Mill Golf Course, Par 72, 6,537 Yards.

Returning Lettermen: James Morgan, soph.; Jacob Slider, sr.; Brandon Arnold, sr.; Cooper Kelly, sr.; Shade Stevens, soph.

Promising Newcomers: Caleb Pittman, sr.; Alex Peelish, fresh.; Cole Bruno, fresh.; Ethan Shodd, fresh.; Isaac Vrudney, fresh.

Depth: James Morgan (First Team All-PTC and First Team All-District golfer last season as a freshman) will be leading the Pirates this season.

“There is not another golfer who works harder than James” says Jenior. “This is evident in his performance in summer tournaments this year, where he saw success against some of the best junior golfers in the world at the Optimist International Tournament at Doral GC in Miami and US Kids Junior World Championships at Pinehurst.”

Seniors Jacob Slider and newcomer Caleb Pittman both have the ability to break 40 on a regular basis and continue to impress heading into the season.

Seniors Brandon Arnold and Cooper Kelly, along with sophomore Shade Stevens, have been working hard on their games all summer and will add experience and stability to the lineup.

“We have a group of promising freshmen that will all challenge for a varsity spot and motivate the upper classmen (Alex Peelish, Cole Bruno, Ethan Shodd, and Isaac Vrudney),” Jenior said.

Season Outlook: “We absolutely have the ability to compete for a PTC championship this season,” said Jenior. “Warren JFK will be very good from top to bottom after returning everyone from a team that made it to state last year. Rootstown, Mogadore and Lake Center Christian are always right there. The PTC is hands down one of the toughest small-school golf conferences in the state. I see this as a huge benefit for our guys heading into the postseason, knowing that we competed with best on a weekly basis … iron always sharpens iron.”

19th Hole: This is the first season that Southeast will have a middle-school team and along with that, the Pirates are hosting a middle-school tournament with five teams already scheduled.

“We continue to build our program and bring more youth golfers to golf,” said Jenior.


Coach: Bruce Thomas, 21st year.

Home Course: Boulder Creek Golf Club, Streetsboro (Front: Par 36/Back: Par 36).

Conference: Metro Athletic Conference.

Last Year: 7-11 overall and 7-7 in the MAC (3rd place).

Returning Lettermen: Tyler Paul, sr.; Jordan Vian, sr.; Jayden Vyse, jr.; Zach Schramm, jr.; Brett Epple, soph.

Not Returning: Kyle Liddle, Josh Williams, Noah Newman and Bryson Jacobs.

Depth: “The returning letterwinners, along with Andrew Burton (junior), Bryce Pocek (soph.) and Evan Reger (soph.), should all compete for varsity time,” Thomas said.

Expectations: “After a third-place MAC finish and a first-ever district qualifying team, the returning golfers have tasted some success and want to continue building the program in the right direction. With many returning golfers, the competition will be better than it’s been in a while,” said Thomas.


Mascot: Vikings.

Coach: Matthew Flanagan, 11th year, 98-86 career record.

Home Course: Paradise Lake Country Club, 5318 yards, Par 70 (34/36).

Conference: Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Scarlet Division.

Last Year: 19-3 overall, 12-0 league, MVAC Scarlet Division champions.

Returning Lettermen: Jackson Eichler, sr.; Drew Flarida, sr.; Trevor Simons, jr.; Clayton Smith, jr.; Mitchell Shepherd, jr.

Not Returning: Noah Hughes.

Depth: “The Vikings will return six lettermen from last year’s league-champion squad and look to continue the success that this group has built,” said Flanagan.

“Our two seniors, Jackson Eichler and Drew Flarida, will lead the team through a tough MVAC league schedule. Mitchell Shepherd and Clayton Smith showed a lot of growth last season, and will continue to contribute to each varsity match.”

Preston White (junior), Jack White (soph.) and Blade Ascarrunz (soph.) will look to earn a spot in the varsity lineup this season with their steady progression.

Two new faces join the program in junior Connor Zachocki and freshman Gabriel Kachner.

Expectations: “After a league-championship finish, the target is our back,” said Flanagan. “Each team will be bringing their best shot when we play. We will look to continue our success into this coming season. In order to keep up the momentum, our group of returning lettermen will need to play their game, have fun while playing and not put pressure upon themselves.

“McDonald, Mineral Ridge and Jackson-Milton always compete hard and will have anyone they face grinding out tough matches,” Flanagan added. “Lowellville, Springfield and Sebring all showed improvement last season and continue to battle in their matches.”

19th Hole: Jackson Eichler played in the NEO Futures Tour, bringing home a win and multiple top-five finishes during the series. Also, he competed in the Matt Mishler Junior Portage County Amateur bringing in a runner-up finish.

Junior varsity golf returns to the Vikings’ program this season.


Mascot: Bombers.

Coach: Cody Apthorpe.

Home Course: Riverview Golf Club, Newton Falls.

Conference: Northeastern Athletic Conference.

Returning Lettermen: Gavin Kiser, soph.

Depth: Kyle Lesko (junior), Jordan Ridenbaugh (soph.), Ian Carmen (soph.), Jaiden Arnone (soph.) and Ryan Quiggle (fresh.).

Expectations: “Many of our players are first-year golfers,” said Apthorpe. “We are excited to teach the game to these guys and watch their growth over the course of the season.”

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