Park’s Romanek Finishes 2nd at First Girls Tourney
Hurricane’s Hart claims title at inaugural golf showcase
ELIZABETH–The future of high school golf in West Virginia changed forever.
The inaugural West Virginia High School Girls Golf Championship was hosted by the WVSSAC and held at the Mingo Bottom Golf Club on Tuesday and fell nothing short of spectacular.
There were two lead changes in the final two holes, which included a match-winning birdie putt by Hurricane’s Olivia Hart, who just edged Wheeling Park’s Dorothy Romanek.
Hart carded a 75 to claim the first girls state title in the history of the sport, while Romanek tallied a 77.
“This means everything to me,” Hart said. “I’ve never posted a 75 in a tournament before. That’s an amazing feeling and it’s an amazing feeling that girls golf is growing in West Virginia and I get to call myself the first girls champion. I can’t get the smile off of my face.”
There were 51 girls in action during the first of many female tournaments and it was one they won’t soon forget.
“It’s an awesome day for all the girls in the state of West Virginia,” Park coach Don Headley said. “We’ve needed this for many years. We have had some really good girls golfers in West Virginia but they have never really gotten to shine in their own event. So, I’m glad the WVSSAC put this together and finally made the dots connect.
“There were 51 girls representing their schools around the state in this wonderful event, so it’s pretty good.”
Romanek made vast improvements in her putting game as the Park senior drained five birdie putts to make a run at the title.
“At the beginning of the season I was constantly 40 putts a round,” Romanek said. “(Tuesday), I think I only had 30. My putting was on point (Tuesday), which was really nice.”
Despite the strong performance on the soft greens by Romanek, it was Hart that shot an even par-36 on the back nine.
“I was thinking that I haven’t had a birdie all day and I’ve played this well, so let’s make it happen on the last hole,” Hart said.
Romanek also outdrove her competitors all day, which helped her get the lead late in the match, an attribute that Romanek credits to her time on the ice.
“I play hockey as my other sport,” Romanek said. “I think a lot of that just kind of carries over.”
Romanek and Hart were deadlocked after the first nine holes, both turning in scores of 39 (3 over par).
Hart finally looked to take control of the match with back-to-back pars on 14 and 15, while Romanek bogeyed each.
However, the Patriots’ senior never gave up, posting back-to-back birdies of her own on 16 and 17 to claim a narrow one-stroke advantage heading into the 18th hole.
“There was so much nerves and pressure,” Romanek said. “Coach Headley did a really good job of trying to keep me level headed and calm and cracking jokes.”
As fans gathered on the hill overlooking the final green, it was Hart that rose to the challenge, earning a birdie on the Par 5, while Romanek suffered several miscues and finished with a double-bogey.
“I was nervous but I stayed positive and I didn’t let myself break down,” Hart said. “I kept going and I didn’t give up and it paid off.”
Following Hart and Romanek on the all-tournament team were Mary Denny of Woodrow with an 85, Molly McLean of Parkersburg and Emma Nicol of George Washington, who each recorded an 87, Nicole Lincicome of Parkersburg garnered an 88, and Autumn Gillispie of GW added an 89.
Park’s Lydia Simon supplied a 90, just missing the all-tournament team.
Other local finishers were Weir’s Jamine Tustin (95), John Marshall’s Bethany Schaber (113), Lauren Tekely (115), Lakyn Parker (116) and Clarissa Edgar (120).
Wheeling Park’s Libby Murrin charted a 118 and Wheeling Central’s Jayden Cooke provided a 132.
“This was just a really great experience,” Romanek said. “It was cool to play against other girls in the state instead of always playing with guys who can hit it a lot further. It was just nice.”
The day couldn’t have gone any better for the first female tournament and John Marshall coach David Gaudino was an essential part of that success.
“Look at all the smiling faces,” Gaudino said. “The girls are so happy to get together and play.
“The course was tough and I don’t think many of the girls have seen an island green before like on the 10th hole. That was a tough way for my kids to start the match.
“They did miracles to get this course ready in such a short time and the kids were having fun and overall it’s been a good day.”
With the first state tournament over and done with, now it’s time to ask the question. What is next?
“I think we will try to have regional events next year,” Gaudino said. “We will try to find days to get groups of girls together in different parts of the state to get them playing so we can continue this in the future.”