Friday, February 23, 2024

Hawken’s Ella Wong defends state title

COLUMBUS—Hawken senior Ella Wong on Saturday became just the fourth female golfer in OHSAA history to win back-to-back state titles.

Wong, who won the Division II state title last fall, edged second-place Riley McKenzie of Crooksville by just one stroke to defend that championship at Ohio State University’s Gray Course.

“First of all, I never thought that I would win back-to-back state titles my junior and senior year, so I’m really proud that I was able to accomplish that,” Wong said. “I was a little disappointed in how I played though because my goal for my scores was to post a total score lower than 146 because each of the first three years I played at states, I improved upon my scores from the previous year. That’s why my goal for this year was to shoot lower than 146 for both days. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to do that. I’m still really happy though, that I was able to accomplish my two other goals, which were to qualify with my whole team and also to defend my title.”

Wong shot a 71-75-146 as a junior to win the state title. She shot 152 in the 2022 state tournament.

Heavy winds affected every player in the tournament but Wong mitigated the 23-mile-per-hour wind on Friday and shot the same 76 on both days despite the winds hitting 16 miles per hour on Saturday.

“The wind was definitely a difficult factor on both days because sometimes I would hit a solid shot but the wind would cause it either to go a little farther from the hole or off the green,” Wong said. “That was frustrating sometimes, but the wind definitely made it more difficult.”

After winning the state title last fall, Wong set two goals for her senior season, and she achieved both of them.

Wong set out to defend her state title but she wanted to do it with her teammates by her side.

The Hawks qualified as a team to play in the state tournament for the first time since they won the 2013 state title.

Hawken shot 718 as a team to finish sixth.

“That was really cool,” Wong said. “I’m glad that I was able to qualify with my team because this has been our goal since my freshman year,” she said. “I’m really glad that we were able to accomplish it in my final year, and I’m just glad that I was able to share that experience with the team. It was exciting to finish near the top of the leaderboard in the state tournament as a team.”

Wong closes her career as a two-time state champion, a four-time state qualifier, and a three-time All-Ohioan.

She placed 17th at state as a freshman in 2019 and then placed eighth in 2020 before winning the state title in 2021 and 2022.

Wong may have played her final round of golf representing her school.

“I definitely want to pursue a career in the medical field, so I’m not sure if I’m going to be playing college golf yet,” she said. “That still hasn’t been decided.”

Hawken senior Kate Petersen shot a 165 to finish tied for 14th place, junior Helena Yanchar shot a 191 to place tied for 48th, and freshman Keira Chang closed out the Hawken scoring with a 210, good for 58th place. Senior Lizzie Kent also played for the Hawks. She shot a 210.

Independence’s girls’ team placed third overall with a 691.

Junior Molly McGreal led the Blue Devils with a 168, good for an 18th-place tie. Senior Hillary Esper tied for 28th with a 173, senior Emma Konopa tied for 30th with a 174, and sophomore Bel Trombetta closed out the scoring with a 176, good for 33rd place. Sophomore Macey McGhee also competed for the Blue Devils. She tied for 36th place with a 180.

Independence junior Mark Pillar tied for fourth place at the Division III boys’ state tournament at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury. Pillar shot 157 over the two-day event.

Chagrin Falls’ boys’ team earned a fourth-place finish at the Division II state tournament at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. The Tigers shot 678 as a team.

Senior Drew Mergenhagen led the Tigers with a 162, good for a 16th-place tie. Junior Sven Nielsen finished 19th with a 163, senior Dylan Glickman carded a 173 to tie for 34th place, and Senior Gavin Stevens finished 46th with a 180. Senior Henry Westendorf placed 62nd with a 192.

Full Results:


Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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