By Susan Jenior
It was a tough day on the links for Portage County golfers playing at the Division III district at Tannenhauf Golf Club in Alliance.
For the Mogadore Wildcats, advancing as a team to the competition, the end was looking promising.
When all scores were tallied, Mogadore totaled a 342, just four strokes off the pace of the third-place team, Badger, that advanced to the state tournament.
Led by Kyle Gardner’s 80, a top-seven finish for the senior, the Wildcats were just edged out of a state berth.
“Of my 18 years coaching golf at Mogadore, this is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached,” said Chris Mossa, varsity mentor.
“Seniors Lucas Butler and Kyle Gardner are a coach’s dream. They led by example on and off the course. Their enthusiasm was intoxicating and the desire to win was second to none,” said Mossa.
“Although we came up short today, I couldn’t be more proud of what this team has accomplished,” Mossa said. “Truly a special year that I will cherish forever.”
Coaches of the individuals, James Morgan of Southeast and Jackson Eicher of Waterloo, had similar sentiments about their golfers that advanced to one step before the state tournament.
“Jackson Eichler finished a great season and four years today for Waterloo,” said Matt Flanagan, coach of the Vikings. “All the hard work he has put in had him in the hunt during today’s district tournament. He put together great rounds when the team needed them, finishing top five in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference, top 10 at sectionals and top 12 at the districts.
“The Vikings are proud of everything he has contributed to our program,” concluded the coach.
James Morgan of Southeast also had a top-12 finish.
“James had a season that any golfer would be incredibly proud to hang their hat on and the fact that he is only a sophomore is remarkable,” said Mike Jenior, coach of the Pirates.
“James grew so much this season and the experiences from this year will only shape him as a player and make him better,” continued the coach. “His work ethic and passion is infectious and will not only make him better but our entire program will improve.”
The only tournaments remaining prior to the state are the Division I district events, the boys Pine Hills District on Monday with both Liam Curtis of Kent and Max Devins of Aurora and the girls at Brookledge, with both the Aurora Greenmen and the Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders competing for a berth at the state dance.
Taylor Blazek of Southeast has already punched her ticket to the state tournament, set to compete in the Division II girls at the Ohio State University Gray Course.