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Green girls golf again back to state tournament

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

GREEN  It's been a very different kind of year for the world as a whole, but in one important respect, it's the same as last year for the Green girls golf team.

For the second straight year and third in the last five, the Bulldogs have golfed themselves all the way to the Division I state tournament in Columbus.

On the heels of an impressive Federal League championship season, a second-place finish at the district tournament sent Green back to the state level to vie for the program's first state title.

Rachel Didonato of Green watches her putt on nine during the Division I girls golf district tournament at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 in Hudson, Ohio.

"Those were the two main ones, to win the Federal League and then get back to state," Green head coach Jake Shocklee said. "They wanted to make a mark for themselves and a name for themselves."

Shocklee noted that prior to last season, the Bulldogs had gone through a period of struggling with scoring consistently and last season's team set out on a mission to get back on track.

Considering that four of the five starters from last season returned this fall, the Bulldogs entered the season with a strong foundation and built on it with big wins all season long.

Returnees Emily Liptak, Rachel Didonato, Jaden Eckard and Samantha Demuesy have been joined in the lineup by sophomore Ava Pulley, with Eckard and Didonato the two seniors in the starting five.

"Every year the Federal League championship is what we're shooting for and to get it three years out of the past five is great," Shocklee said. "In our league, teams like Jackson, Hoover and also GlenOak has had a really good program, so there are no weeks off and if you don't play your best, you can get beat."

Still, after getting a taste of the state tournament experience last year, the Bulldogs entered this new season on a mission.

They set their sights on league success and then on postseason success, knowing they had the talent and veteran know-how to get back to states.

Now they're headed back armed with all the knowledge they gained last season and hopefully, an added sense of confidence that comes with having been there before.

"I think they know what to expect. This is the first time I've had a group go back to back. We only lost one player from last year and to have those four back as a nucleus, they know what to expect and they're not wondering where we're going to eat, where the practice round is going to be ... they've great job over the course of season preparing for anything and I have a mature team as far as handling what happens during a round golfing," Shocklee said.

The veteran coach also noted that at the district tournament, the first alternate for the Bulldogs was a sophomore who was able to learn and gain first-person experience that she can use in future seasons.

It's that sort of perpetual cycle of success and upcoming talent that is a hallmark of programs able to stay a high level for long periods of time.

"I think it's huge. The younger players come in and they want see the same success we've had and they want a piece of that, so work hard on the offseason and develop their game," Shocklee said.

Next week at the state tournament, this current group of Bulldogs will have their chance to snag their own piece of success and add another chapter to the program's growing legacy.