By Susan Jenior
This is a big week in Ohio high school golf.
It is the final week for qualifying competitions as athletes look to advance to the state tournaments.
And, this weekend, the OHSAA state golf tournaments begin with the boys in Division II and Division III, and the girls in the D-II events take to the fairways of the Ohio State University Gray and Scarlet golf courses and North Star Golf Club in Columbus.
The Northeast district has always been one of the toughest in the state of Ohio to qualify for the state tournament. The top-five teams and five individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament set to compete at the OSU Scarlet Golf Course in Columbus Oct. 20-21.
Among the 20 teams and individuals at the Pine Hills District to grab one of those individual qualifying spots is senior Max Devins of Aurora and junior Liam Curtis of Kent.
Both golfers have been at the state tournament before.
Curtis advanced in 2022 ultimately firing back-to-back rounds of 80 on the always tough fairways of Scarlet, good for a tie for 26th place.
As a sophomore, in 2021, Devins earned a tie for 37th place with rounds of 79-83 for a final 162 stroke score.
Both young golfers handled the pressure and the course management well in the 72-player field.
The two golfers in the Suburban League tee off together today at Pine Hills seeking one of the five individual-qualifying spots for a repeat trip to the state tournament.
It is the girls turn to take to the fairways at Brookledge Golf Club in Cuyahoga Falls for the Division I District.
The Aurora girls qualified first out of the Old Avalon sectional, with Kent Roosevelt grabbing third place in the same event in Warren.
Brooklyn Millar, of Aurora, a senior, leads the team with solid state experience.
Millard advanced as a sophomore to the state tournament and was the runner-up with a final total of 1-under-par 139, missing the state championship by one stroke.
To advance out of the district, Millard has her teammates joining her: Gracyn Vidovic, a junior who earned Player of the Year honors in the Northern Ohio PGA summer tournaments; senior Nina Newkirk and juniors Manisha Girn and Brooke Barry.
For the Rough Riders, traveling to the state tournament, either as an individual or as a team has become a tradition. This season, a team led by seniors Madolyn Kost, Izzy Wood and Anna Piccico, juniors Ashlyn Leavery and Cassidy Singer and sophomore Adrianna Mineo look to continue the tradition.
Leavery and Picicco have been at the state tournament before, in 2021, when the Kent girls finished 10th in the state.
As girls in Division I are still fighting for the right to travel to Columbus, Taylor Blazek, a junior representing the Southeast Pirates, has already earned a trip to the Division II state tournament and will start her competition with a practice round on the Gray Course on Thursday.
Blazek has already had a memorable year, earning Player of the Year honors in the Portage Trail Conference and leading the team to the D-II District at Good Park Golf Course in Akron.
Now, as a qualifying individual, she looks to continue her solid play on the biggest stage of the high school golf season.
Blazek is the first golfer to advance to the state tournament from Southeast.
Fans and relatives looking forward to watching their favorite high school golfer in the OHSAA post-season tournaments will need tickets to enter the sectional, district, and state events.
Tickets are available online at www.ohsaa.org/tickets.
All tickets are online. There is a question/answer page on the website or fans may call 866-488-4849 for support.
(Be sure and check ahead if attending a golf match or tournament. Changes in the schedule are frequent.)