By Susan Jenior
There are kids who come out for golf and then there are golfers.
Many schools, trying to build a team, find students joining the golf team having never played a round of golf or even had the opportunity to swing a club.
Kent Roosevelt, Southeast and Rootstown, along with several other schools in counties surrounding Portage, are trying to alleviate that situation by starting junior-golf programs and middle-school teams.
The culmination of the middle-school season was this week — prior to the heart of the OHSAA postseason tournaments, the same time high-school golfers are either continuing on with dreams of making the state tournament or concluding their own seasons.
Ashley Shaheen, tournament director, invited teams and individuals to the annual Kent Junior Rider tournament at Raccoon Hill Golf Club in Kent as 22 boys and 17 girls competed.
Leading the girls division was Sammy Morgan (Southeast Middle School), taking home the first-place trophy, firing an 83 for 18-holes.
Runner-up from Kent was Makenna Ward, carding a 92.
“Makenna knocked 42 strokes off her score from 2022,” said Shaheen.
Third place went to Avery Robinette of Champion (93).
Jenni Mix (Southeast) fired a 96 to finish in the top five.
For the boys, Lucas Cutlip (Stow) earned both first place and closest to the pin, firing a 75.
Runner-up was Lennox Mallarnee (Carrollton) scoring a 79 and third place, with an 83, was Jaxon Turner of Kent.
The closest to the pin earned $305 for The Rose Fund, a charity fund through Kelly’s Grief Center.
A few days before the Kent Junior Rider Tournament, the Riders hosted their final match for the season.
Making the match even better, the Riders varsity girls team came to support the girls and watch the team.
The Southeast Middle School team, coached by Dan Mix, concluded its season defeating Champion 183-185 at Bristlewood Golf Course in North Bloomfield.
Sammy Morgan fired an 41 to earn medalist honors, with the rest of the team that won including: Owen Dombroski (42), Jenni Mix (50) and Emily Morrison (50).
The Pirates finished with a season record of 6-1-1.
“We would like to thank Olde Dutch Mill golf course for hosting us this year,” said Mix.
The Northern Ohio Professional Golfers Association hosted the annual Mitchell-Haskell Tour Championship at the Country Club in Pepper Pike, welcoming golfers who won a section event in the current year, was a past section champion or past Mithell-Haskell tour champions.
The top 30 members, six associates and 15 seniors from the point list also qualified for the event.
Among these prestigious golfers, Mark Sierak, former golf professional at Aurora’s Barrington Golf Club, fired a two-round total of 2-under-par to capture the championship in a come-from-behind finish. Sierak is the current co-owner of Optimus Golf, operates 3 Peat Promotions and is a regional director for the Folds of Honor.
Former Kent State standout, Rob Moss, director of golf at Pepper Pike Club, finished ninth in the regular division and fifth in the Senior Division, firing a final 2-over-par. Mike Stone won the Senior division (Belmont Country Club) and Mitch Camp of Club Walden in Aurora earned the runner-up spot at one-under-par.