For Eastwood senior Alyssa Shimel, winning the Division II girls state golf championship began with a tee shot on the first hole at Ohio State University's Gray Course on Friday morning and ended with a par putt on the 18th green on Saturday afternoon.
In between, the Eagle standout carded two consistently solid rounds - a 3-over-par 73 and a 2-over 72 - to edge runner-up organ Ransom, a sophomore from Gahanna Columbus Academy, by two strokes.
But Shimel's path to becoming northwest Ohio's third individual girls state champion began 15 years ago when she first tagged along with her father, Jeff, and took her first swings.
"My dad plays, and he started taking me to the range when I was 2 years old," Shimel said. "I've been playing ever since. We used to be members at Stone Ridge [Golf Club in Bowling Green], but we basically just play all around at a lot of courses.
"I realized I was pretty good when I started playing tournament golf when I was 9 or 10. I played in some father-daughter tournaments with my dad, and some little nine-hole tournaments in the area. It was something I really liked to do and I've always been a competitor in whatever I play. I loved golf and I wanted to compete and win. I started playing in junior tournaments when I was 12."
Shimel never loved golf, or tournaments, more than last Saturday.
"It's amazing," she said. "I don't think I can find words to describe how it feels. I'm not sure it's completely sunk in yet, but it feels great.
"I thought it was possible. It's been my goal ever since I was a freshman to win state, and I've been practicing really hard the past couple years and really improving my game."
This was not Shimel's first go-round in state play at the Gray Course. As a freshman in 2006, she tied for fifth at 153, and last year she tied for eighth at 156. She did not qualify out of the district in 2007.
Northwest Ohio's last girls state medalist was Heather Zielinski, who shot a 71-69-140 at the OSU Gray Course in leading Notre Dame to its third state team title in 1998. The Eagles also won state team crowns in 1993, the first year of girls state competition, and 1996. Zielinski's 140 stood as a state record until Ariel Witmer of North Lima South Range shot a 139 in D-II play last year.
The other medalist from the northwest district was Kiki Corliss of Mohawk in 1993.
In her first round, Shimel had birdies on holes 10 and 17 to offset five bogeys. In the second round, she birdied 8 and 15, bogeyed 5 and 10, and made double-bogey on 6. But by the 18th green she had a good idea she might win.
"I knew I was tied [coming into second round] with one of the girls I was playing with, and I knew I beat her by two strokes," Shimel said. "My coach [John Cavendish] came over and let me know, and I gave my dad a hug, and then I went over to the scorer's table right away.
"I hit the ball really well. I hit lots of greens and I was able to recover when I got in trouble, so that helped. I thought I handled the nerves pretty well. It was nice having a coach there to keep me calm and keep me focused. I just focused on what I needed to do and the shot I had to hit, and I didn't really think about [being nervous]."
Shimel, 17, will continue her golf career at the University of Michigan. She verbally committed to a full scholarship offer in June.
Her career low round was a 4-under 69 two weeks ago in sectional play at Green Hills Golf Course in Clyde. Scores like that have not come by accident.
"During the summer, when it's nice out, I try to play a couple hours every day," Shimel said. "In the winter, I either putt inside, or even hit small chip shots in the house. Then we go to the dome in Toledo. It's pretty much year round."
Two local boys teams and one girls sqaud will compete in their respective Division I state golf tournaments beginning Friday at Ohio State University's Scarlet and Gray courses.
St. John's returns to state after a one-year absence, and Anthony Wayne is back for the first time since 2002. On the girls side, City League champion St. Ursula also returns after a one-year absence, and this will be the Arrows' seventh state trip this decade.
St. John's coach Bill Perry's lineup was paced by junior Michael Balcar, who shot a team-low 75 in last week's district tournament at Red Hawk Run in Findlay. The Titans and Anthony Wayne each shot team scores of 324 to qualify for state.
Rounding out the St. John's lineup are senior Nick Mancinotti, who shot 85 at the district event, juniors Zak Hart (82) and Ryan Jorgensen (83), and freshman Topher Garzony (84).
Competing for AW coach Pat Phillips will be seniors John Gaspar, who shot a team-low 79 at district, Brian Turnwald (82), Kevin Hoyle (83) and Josh Bialecki (85), and sophomore Deion Tansel (80).
Leading coach Jim McGowan's St. Ursula squad at the district at Heather Downs Golf Club was senior Megan McKernan (82), who is joined by senior Eileen Perry (93), and sophomores Alex Graf, Eva Antypas and Meredith Taylor.
The Oak Harbor girls ran away from the field in winning the Sandusky Bay Conference title Saturday at Fabens Park in Huron. The Rockets, led by junior Kia Frank's first-place effort in a time of 20:13.90, had all five scoring runners finish in the top nine to finish with 28 points, 43 points fewer than second-place Edison.
The Rocket boys finished second with 64 points, trailing team champ Sandusky St. Mary by eight.
Oak Harbor was led by juniors Tyler Eoff (17:39.48) and Adam Smercina (17:45.39), who placed third and fourth, respectively.
The Findlay boys and the Napoleon girls won titles at the Greater Buckeye Conference meet at Osborn Park in Sandusky.
The Trojans won the boys meet 37-51 over Napoleon, with Fremont Ross third with 54 points. Findlay freshman Matt Waaland won the individual crown with a time of 16:19.28 - less than a second in front of Napoleon's Steve Weaver - as the Trojans had all seven of their runners finish in the top 14.
In the girls meet Napoleon won the title by sweeping the top three spots and squeezing six runners into the top 10 to finish with 22 points, 24 fewer than Findlay.
Senior Rachel Huddle led Napoleon, winning the individual title with a 19:36.60, while Erica Monnin (19:53.46) and Sara Lauf (20:07.58) took second and third, respectively.
Cardinal Stritch and Toledo Christian split their two matches and also split the Toledo Area Athletic Conference volleyball title this season.
Stritch (14-7, 9-1 TAAC), under first-year head coach John Kazmaier, topped the Eagles in four games in the first meeting. Toledo Christian avenged that loss with a 3-0 sweep in the rematch.
The Cardinals' championship split comes on the heels of back-to-back outright titles. Leading the way for Stritch have been its two senior All-TAAC first-teamers, outside hitter Alex Blazevich and setter Kristen Filzer. The Cardinals open Division III tourney play with a sectional final Saturday at Genoa against Lake.
Toledo Christian (14-8, 9-1), which is led by junior middle hitter Bethany Critchley, last won outright TAAC crowns in 2005 and 2006, advancing to the state semifinals in 2006. The Eagles open tourney play with a D-IV matchup against Hilltop Saturday at Pettisville.