Donnelly, Leyerle, Dull make their mark at state golf

J. Patrick Eaken

Three local high school golfers, Payton Donnelly, Sydney Leyerle and Kyleigh Dull, made their marks at the Division I and II state girls golf tournaments held at The Ohio State University Gray Course.
At the D-II state tournament, Lakota junior Kyleigh Dull shot a three-under par 70-67—137 to win the state individual championship and Gibsonburg junior Sydney Leyerle shot an 8-over par 72-76—148 to finish in eighth place individually among 71 golfers competing.
“It could have been better. I was definitely disappointed because I knew I could have done way better,” Leyerle said. “Overall, I performed better than the last two years so I was happy for that.”
Leyerle is this year’s Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Golfer of the Year and Genoa senior Ethan Smith is the All-Press Boys Golfer of the Year.
        Leyerle began golfing at age 5 under the tutelage of her father, Marc, and she played in her first competitive tournament at the age of 7. She still loves the game despite all the years competing in youth tournaments and high school golf.
“I’ve been playing it my whole life and it’s a part of me,” Leyerle said. “It’s very calming when I’m out there and when I’m having a really good round I just stand there and look around and think, ‘I just love it.’”
        She has qualified for state all three of her high school seasons, as a sophomore finishing eighth in the Division II meet, shooting 76-79—155 at the Ohio State University Gray Course. That’s five places than her 13th place finish her freshman season.
        This year she again finished eighth, but seven strokes better on the same course. Playing conditions on Friday were good, about 80 degrees, but on Saturday it turned bitter cold.
“I think Syd had a great tournament,” Gibsonburg coach Brent Liskai said. “She improved upon the year before by seven strokes. Playing conditions were good on Friday, not so good on Saturday, but you know it’s a really tough field, she played with good competitors and she kept her head together as she always does. I was proud with how she competed.”
        Leyerle said every year she goes to state gets a little easier to deal with.
“I think I was a little more confident because I knew more of what to expect,” Leyerle said. “My first year I was nervous because (I thought), ‘Oh, I don’t know what I’m doing. This is big.’ This year I was more ready.”
        Liskai says Leyerle and Dull “play a lot with each other in the summer and don’t live far from each other,” plus Dull has family living in the Eastern Maumee Bay community but The Press does not deliver to the Lakota school district.
        Leyerle said the state tournament capped off the best season in her high school career so far, but she was pleased to see her friend win a championship.
        Leyerle was medalist at the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division meet at Fremont Country Club, shooting 36-33—69 to finish four strokes ahead of Edison runner-up Jordan Pruitt, who shot 35-38—73. Leyerle had five birdies, including a string of three in a row on the back where she shot a 33. She had 10 pars and just three bogeys. The successive birdies came on the par five 13th, the par three 14th hole, par five 15th, she bogeyed the par four, and then birdied the par four 17th. She shot a 36 on the front.
        Now, Leyerle will focus on another sport before turning her attention to golf again next spring.
“I’m probably going to be taking a break and I’m going to be swimming during the winter time because I’m a competitive swimmer, and then I’ll start up again in the spring and playing tournaments again in the summer,” Leyerle said.
“I’m going to do what I have always done — prepare and practice every day like I always have and just kind of focus on the time I have in the spring and summer and whatever happens, happens.”
Arrows, Comets at state
At the D-I state tournament, St. Ursula freshman Payton Donnelly, a Curtice resident, was part of the Arrows’ team that finished 10th out of 12 teams at the state meet.
Donnelly shot 91-88—179 to finish 62nd individually out of 72 golfers and her team shot 666. New Albany was the champion, scoring 571.
At the district meet, Donnelly shot a team-best 81 and her team scored 351 to finish second behind Ashland (335). St. Ursula is coached by Jim McGowan and other team members are seniors Paige Zolciak and Amanda Momany, sophomore Lexie Murphy and freshman Hannah Chung.
Ethan Smith was part of a Genoa team that finished seventh out of 12 teams in the D-II state meet at Northstar Golf Club in Sunbury, Ohio. Genoa, coached by Mike DeStazio, finished with a team score of 692 on Saturday, while Gahanna Columbus Academy won its third straight D-II state title with a score of 615.
        Smith, Tommy Giles, Isaac Simmons and Brock Pollauf were All-Northern Buckeye Conference first team as the Comets won their third straight league championship.
Smith, a senior, was the NBC Player of the Year, averaging 37.8 strokes per nine holes. Giles averaged 39.2, Simmons 40.4 and Pollauf 44.4. Simmons and Pollauf are seniors and Giles is the lone junior among the four lead golfers.

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