Mathews, McDonald golfers focusing on district action

Mathews’ Emily Koehler and McDonald’s Joey Ragazzine are amongst six area golfers in Divisions II and III to qualify for OHSAA district tournament play next week. Koehler came out of the Division II girls sectional as the No. 1 qualifier, while Ragazzine is the No. 2 qualifier coming out of the Division III boys sectional.

For Koehler, it comes as no suprise. The senior has qualified for the district tournament all four years of her career, and she has now qualifed No. 1 in each of the past three years.

“I didn’t expect it, I never expect,” Koehler said of being the No. 1 qualifier, once again. “I kind of expected to get through sectionals, as I’ve been working really hard the past few weeks.”

Mathews girls coach Greg Denovchek said Koehler’s overall game has seen tremendous improvement over her four years, as her tee-to-green game is “unbelievable,” according to the coach. Denovchek and Koehler both agree that her short game has seen the greatest improvement.

While Koehler’s seen a lot of growth in her already-stellar game, the disappointment of the last two district tournaments is what really haunts her. In fact, according to Denovchek, Koehler missed qualifying for state by just four strokes last year.

“My goal has always been state,” Koehler said. “It’s a little heartbreaking (to just miss it the last two years). As a freshman, I didn’t know what to expect (at districts), so I used it as a trial run. As a sophomore, I got more serious about it, and now as a senior, I definitely want to make it to state.”

While Koehler has been a known commodity at the district tournament, Ragazzine is a first-timer. The senior, who shot a 78 at the Division III sectional held at Riverview on?Wednesday, qualified second behind Tony Massucci of Ashtabula St. John.

His Blue Devils, who just narrowly missed the cut to go to districts by placing in fourth as a team at sectionals, never made it to the district tournament in Ragazzine’s four years at the school. In fact, Ragazzine becomes the first Blue Devil individual qualifier to make it to districts since he’s been at the school.

“I thought one or two guys at least could get out of sectionals, if we couldn’t make it as a team,” McDonald coach Matt Vukovic said. “I’m not surprised that he (Ragazzine) made it. We joke that he’s a machine out there.

“He doesn’t try to overpower anything, he’s unbelievably steady and has a steady and consistent swing.”

However, if Ragazzine hopes to make a run at districts, he’ll need to do better on the back nine, which has been his Achilles’ heel all year long.

“Putting was my real issue going into the back nine (at sectionals),” Ragazzine said. “I just need to make some adjustments and then I should be fine. (As for state) I don’t know yet, we’ll see.”

Other than Ragazzine, two other boys golfers advanced to district, including Ursuline’s Drew Murphy in Division II, while Mathews’ Ryan Kay advanced with Ragazzine in Division III. As for the girls side, Mooney’s Hadley Spielvogel and Ursuline’s Sydney Heinbaugh both advanced out of Division II, along with Koehler.