The season officially got underway for high school golfers on Friday with the first day of competition, as permitted by the OHSAA.
Teams in the area didn’t waste any time as tournaments across the state welcomed golfers for their first test of the new season.
Locally, the Lake Center Christian Tiger Invitational is a preview of sorts for Portage Trail Conference teams, giving them the opportunity to see where they match up against other boys teams, as well as play the home of the Portage Trail Conference boys varsity tournament at the end of the season. The Tiger Invitational concluded Friday.
On Saturday, Kent Roosevelt welcomed girls teams from across Northeast Ohio to the annual Lady Rider Invitational with morning and afternoon flights at the Fairways at Twin Lakes.
And along the way, at practices and scrimmages, golfers were demonstrating they are more than ready for the season to get underway so they can prove their high school teams are the best.
This column can often go the entire season without a hole-in-one to report.
A hole-in-one takes a lot of skill and a little bit of luck for the accomplishment all players want to be able to check off that golf goals list.
On the first day of the season, Grace Thompson, a junior golfer at Kent Roosevelt, accomplished the ace on the Par-3 fifth at Twin Lakes. She hit her perfect shot from the tee box that was 125 yards from the green.
Mike Weber, a member of the Rootstown golf team, had almost the entire team witness his hole-in-one at Sunny Hill Golf Course.
Part of the team was on the Par-3 15th and had marked their balls to let the next group hit up.
With everyone standing around the green, and head coach Keith Waesch and assistant coach Doug Mori standing about 20 feet from the pin, the senior used his 6-iron for the 182-yard hole and watched the ball take one hop and go in as his teammates cheered.
LADY RIDER INVITATIONAL
The Kent Roosevelt junior varsity team took second place among varsity teams in the morning flight on a slightly shortened course.
The varsity Rough Riders grabbed third and were in contention the entire day for their own invitational.
Lauren Garner, Grace Thompson, Hannah Thomas, Emma Picicco and Haley Brenner ranged in score from 82 through 96 as the team demonstrated its consistency early in the season.
Each of the girls had “that” hole, the one no golfer wants, but the key was recovering and continuing their solid rounds.
The popular tournament features the best teams in Northeast Ohio, often the same teams that are found at the state tournament at the end of the season.
Bryan Harvey, coach of the Rough Riders, and his assistant, Larry Picicco, start their day at 6 a.m. and are not home until after nine to run the successful event with teams returning year after year.
A NEW COACH
The Windham Bombers have a new coach this season, but Dave Fall, the longtime coach who retired at the end of the 2016 season, still competed in the 87th Record-Courier Portage County Amateur, a tradition for him, with his wife, Trisha, caddying.
Usually Fall is among the best golfers in the event but this year, he was a little off his pace.
But Fall added a different title this year.
Instead of Portage County Am Champ, he became a grandfather during the two-day tournament.
So now, instead of coach, his new title is, proudly, grandpa.
COACH AND PLAYER MEET
When the Southeast Pirates travel to compete against the Rootstown Rovers at Sunny Hill Golf Course today, it will be a reunion of sorts for the coaches of the two teams.
Keith Waesch, 21-year mentor of the Rovers, will pit his team on Rootstown’s new home fairways against the Pirates, coached by his former player and new Pirates head coach, Mike Jenior.
Jenior played for Waesch in the final seasons of the Portage County League and was a two-time Player of the Year in 2002 and 2003, as Waesch led Jenior to a seventh-place individual finish at the OHSAA state tournament his senior year.
“It is very exciting and nostalgic to say the least,” said Jenior about playing against his former coach and mentor.
“It is hard to put into words the impact Coach Waesch had on my life,” Jenior said. “For some, the term coach stops at the title for the paycheck, but Coach Waesch is one of those high school coaches who instills his passion and gives his undivided attention into making his players better competitors and all-around individuals.
“If you are looking for a model on how to coach a successful program, look no further than Keith Waesch.”
RECORD-COURIER ON THE COURSE
Watch for coverage and photos from the following matches and tournaments this week on the sports pages of the Record-Courier.
Today — Boys: Southeast @ Rootstown, Sunny Hill Golf Course
Tuesday — Girls: Southeast @ Garfield, Sugar Bush Golf Club
Wednesday — Girls: Southeast High School Pirate Invitational; Girls: Suburban League Preseason Tournament at Barberton Brookside
Thursday — Boys: Suburban League Preseason Tournament at Good Park, Akron; Boys: Mogadore @ Southeast, Olde Dutch Mill Golf Course
Friday — Girls: Lady Tiger Invitational, Sable Creek Golf Course
Today — Southeast @ Rootstown, Garfield @ Crestwood, Lake Center Christian @ Mogadore, Cloverleaf @ Ravenna, Springfield @ Coventry, Woodridge @ Field, Kent Roosevelt @ Jackson Polar Bear Invitational, Windham @ Chalker, Aurora @ CVCA Invitational
Tuesday — Kent Roosevelt & Aurora @ Nordonia Invitational, Windham @ Bristol
Wednesday — Ravenna @ Springfield, Cloverleaf @ Streetsboro, Field @ Coventry, Woodridge @ Norton
Thursday — Woodridge @ Coventry, Streetsboro @ Springfield, Mogadore @ Southeast, Lake Center Christian @ Garfield, Rootstown @ Crestwood, Kent Roosevelt & Aurora at Suburban Pre-Season Tournament, Mathews @ Windham
Friday — Cloverleaf @ Woodridge, Springfield @ Field, Ravenna @ Streetsboro
Today — Crestwood @ Springfield, Garfield @ Lake Center Christian, Woodridge @ Southeast
Tuesday — Cloverleaf @ Springfield, Norton @ Crestwood, Lake Center Christian @ Woodridge, Southeast @ Garfield, Kent Roosevelt @ Magnificat Blue Streak Invitational.
Wednesday — Southeast Pirate Invitational, Kent Roosevelt & Aurora at Suburban League Preseason Tournament
Thursday — Lake Center Christian @ Akron Springfield, Norton @ Woodridge, Southeast @ Crestwood
Friday – Lake Center Christian Lady Tiger Invitational