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Paradiso rallies to win first LEJGA title

Butch Wagner • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Port Clinton's Anthony Paradiso appeared out of the running for his first title in the Lake Erie Junior Golf Association's boys 14-16 age group.

However, the 15-year-old sophomore suddenly caught fire on the back nine at the Thunderbird Hills South course and wound up winning the championship with a 77.

"I really kicked it into gear on the back side with two birdies and an eagle to finish 41-36, even par for the back nine," Paradiso said.

"I'm happy because this is my first win in this age group (14-16) after three or four seconds earlier this year," Paradiso said.

"I birdied No. 12 and No. 16, but the big one came on the short par-five 14th hole when I had my eagle. I didn't have any big number on the front and that kept me in the game even though I had bogies," Paradiso said.

Noah Sampson of Clarkston, Mich. and Tommy Barkett of Mansfield had 79s while Max Berry of Norwalk also finished strong with an even par 36 on the back nine but struggled with 45 on the front for his 81.

The only other area champion was young Jordan Pruitt of Milan who shot 43 in the girls 10-14 age group, two shots ahead of Cecelia Dillon of Vermilion.

Pruitt, 11, is a seventh-grader in the Berlin-Milan School District. Dillon, 14, enters the freshman grade in the Vermilion district this fall.

Pruitt and Dillon both had two pars in their rounds and it marked the second crown for Pruitt in her age group this season. She was also first at Red Hawk in Findlay.

"My best score is 37 which I had at Shawnee Hills in Cleveland and my strength is driving," Pruitt said. "I need to improve on my chipping."

She is headed for the U.S. Kids State Championships today and Wednesday in the girls 10-11 age bracket.

Dillon, who has a career low nine-hole score of 39, also points to her power off the tee.

"My driving is the strong point and I want to improve on my short game," Dillon said.

As for the oldest boys age group — 17-19 — Bellevue seniors Isaac Hartley and Dylan DeWitt tied for second place with 76s, two strokes behind champion Cory Peterson.

Peterson, a Mansfield Madison graduate who is a sophomore at Cedarville College, near Dayton, carded 38-36 for his 74.

Meanwhile, Hartley fired 39-37—76 and DeWitt 38-38—76 and a tiebreaker was needed to determine the runner-up trophy or the third-place award. Hartley parred the 18th hole, the No. 1 hole for the tiebreaker.

"I had four birdies today but a triple bogey on No. 13 hurt me a lot. I went out of bounds, then three-putted," Hartley said. He birdied Nos. 2, 4, 14 and 17.

DeWitt had tree trouble on two holes that proved costly.

"I bogied 10 and then doubled 18," he said. "Both times I had shot into the trees.

"I also had back-to-back birdies on 13 and 15 but missed a 10-footer for another birdie on 15," DeWitt added.

Both are key members of the Bellevue golf team that is trying to get back to the Division II state championships in October.

"Just think, we have tryouts in less than a month and our first match is Aug. 8," said Hartley.

Logan Dwelle of Perkins, the points leader in the 17-19 class, produced a 42-37—79 for another top 10 finish.

For the boys 10-11, Nolan Haynes of Barberton coasted to honors with a two-over-par 38 and Sandusky's Cole Hupp was second at 50.

In the girls 15-19 group (Division E), Nicolette Bowersock of Ashland was crowned the champion at 39-41—80 and Katelynn Kinley of Sycamore was runner-up with 44-38—82.

In third place was Emily Bogner of Clyde who had her season low score of 83 with 44-39.

"My previous low was 87 at Red Hawk last week when I was second," said Bogner, who is going to Old Fort High School in August because of open enrollment.

"It's a shame Clyde does not have a girls golf team and Old Fort will have between seven and nine players this year. That's one reason I'm going there," said Bogner.

Sarah Hall of Vermilion, a first-time player in the LEJGA, had 49-42--91 for the girls 15-19 and the 42 tied her lowest nine-hole score. She will be a senior on the Vermilion girls golf team in the fall. Her best 18-hole total is an 86 at the South course in open play.

Three more tournaments are on the agenda this week. Ashland Country Club is the host Wednesday, followed by Sleepy Hollow Golf Club Thursday and Maumee Bay Friday.

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