Friday, October 22

    Pillar leads Independence to district tournament

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    Independence’s Mark Pillar claimed medalist honors at the Division III Pine Hills Sectional Tournament on Wednesday, leading the Blue Devils to a second-place finish and a berth in next week’s district competition.

    Gilmour Academy shot a 313 to win the sectional title. Independence finished with 329 strokes.

    “I’m so happy for the guys,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “You turn the page, it’s a second season, you’re competing, and it’s a different atmosphere. There’s a little more tension and there’s finality if it doesn’t go your way but I thought the guys rose to the occasion.”

    Pillar shot an even-par 72 to win the tournament by three strokes over second-place B.K. Kwasniak of Cornerstone Christian Academy.

    “I’m extremely excited,” Pillar said. “This is something the team and I have been working on all year. Coach Marcinko has been preparing us for this tournament. We did what we needed to do to advance.”

    The postseason presents each golfer with additional pressure not faced during the regular season.

    “There was a lot of good competition today,” Pillar said. “This pressure and competition helps me thrive and do my best.”

    Pillar struggled off the tee box early in the round but countered with a strong command of his mid-range irons and short game.

    “My driver was a bit off in the beginning, but my irons made up for my driver’s mistakes,” he said. “My irons left me close to the pin, which gave me great opportunities for birdies.”

    Charlie DeCapua carded an 85 and Sam Coddington and A.J. Marcinko both shot 86 to close out the scoring. David Eichler also competed for the Blue Devils. He shot a 96.

    “We had good scores from top to bottom and that’s what it takes,” Marcinko said. “It was a group effort. Charlie had a rough front nine but a better back nine. It was kind of flipped on Sam and A.J. It was kind of a tale of two nines. All three of them had a two or three-hole span where they blew up but got it back on the rails again. They did a great job of not letting the round get away from them. Even though they had a bad stretch, they refocused and put balls in play, got chips and putts, and got things going in a positive direction again.”

    By finishing among the top three as a team, the Blue Devils advanced to next Thursday’s district tournament at Tannenhauf Golf Club in Alliance.

    They’ll do so riding a lot of momentum after posting a season-low team score.

    “We knew nobody was going to get Gilmour,” Marcinko said. “We knew everybody was fighting for the second and third slot. All year, we kept thinking in tournaments we wanted to shoot in the 340s and once we were in the 330s, so to throw up a 329 on a tough course like that and have the group play well really bodes well. It gives you a fighting chance at district but it just gets tougher.”


    1. Gilmour Academy* 313 (Alex Swinarski 76, Jack Popovich 75, Nathan Flaherty 82, Eric Anton 87, Harry Rogers 80); 2. Independence* 329 (Mark Pillar 72, Charlie DeCapua 85, Sam Coddington 86, Andrew Marcinko 86, David Eichler 96); 3. Dalton* 338 (Jaden Schlabach 84, Brendan Lehman 84, Preston Wenger 87, Trevor Horst 83, Todd Brahler 89); 4. Mapleton 341; 5. Loudonville 356; 6. Smithville 365; 7. Norwayne 371; 8. Columbia 384; 9. Open Door Christian 387; 10. Wellington 393; 11. Cornerstone Christian 409; 12. Cuy. Heights 424; 13. Hillsdale 439; 14. Lake Ridge Acad. 455; 15. Oberlin 0; 16. Trinity 0;


    (* indicates a qualifying individual)

    1. Mark Pillar (Independence) 72; 2. BK Kwasniak* (Cornerstone Christian) 75, Jack Popovich (Gilmour Academy) 75; 4. Alex Swinarski (Gilmour Academy) 76; 5. Harry Rogers (Gilmour Academy) 80; 6. Nathan Flaherty (Gilmour Academy) 82, Evan Dennison* (Mapleton) 82, Brock Durbin* (Mapleton) 82; 9. Trevor Horst (Dalton) 83, Grady Kline (Mapleton) 83; 11. Zach Hritz (Columbia) 84, Jaden Schlabach (Dalton) 84, Brendan Lehman (Dalton) 84, Judah Layton (Loudonville) 84, Gavin Von Almen (Smithville) 84; 16. Charlie DeCapua (Independence) 85; 17. Sam Coddington (Independence) 86, Andrew Marcinko (Independence) 86, Blake Hopkins (Open Door Christian) 86; 20. Preston Wenger (Dalton) 87, Eric Anton (Gilmour Academy) 87, Isaac Gessner (Loudonville) 87; 23. Todd Brahler (Dalton) 89, Byron Bickel (Hillsdale) 89, Max Graham (Norwayne) 89, Jered Sanders (Smithville) 89; 27. Devin Hartsoe (Norwayne) 90; 28. Jack Rolando (Trinity) 91; 29. Nate Morris (Loudonville) 92; 30. Chandeler Gribble (Loudonville) 93; 31. Jordan Davidson (Mapleton) 94, Gavin Ferguson (Norwayne) 94, Max Yochheim (Smithville) 94, Riley Reyna (Wellington) 94; 35. Jacob Weegmann (Wellington) 95; 36. Wil Napoli (Columbia) 96, David Eichler (Independence) 96, Anthony Jackson (Oberlin) 96; 39. Jack Peters (Trinity) 97, Lucas Sutherland (Wellington) 97; 41. Kaelib Graaf (Cuy. Heights) 98, Jed Hanzie (Norwayne) 98, Titus Sooy (Open Door Christian) 98, Carter Piatt (Smithville) 98; 45. Tyler Palmer (Columbia) 99, Jack Bohning (Cuy. Heights) 99, Gabe Gerhart (Loudonville) 99, Nolan Dennison (Mapleton) 99; 49. Derek Pumphrey (Norwayne) 100, Anthony Olivencia (Open Door Christian) 100, Jaydon Marty (Smithville) 100; 52. Connor Spencer (Lake Ridge Acad.) 101; 53. David Sage (Cornerstone Christian) 102; 54. Ben Comer (Open Door Christian) 103; 55. Joe Jarmatcki (Columbia) 105, Matt Gillam (Cornerstone Christian) 105, Will Giesbrecht (Open Door Christian) 105; 58. Sam Dresing (Lake Ridge Acad.) 107, Braden Hamer (Wellington) 107; 60. Nik Adams (Columbia) 110; 61. Brady Pinter (Cuy. Heights) 111, Wyatt Carpenter (Hillsdale) 111, Jack Marsh (Wellington) 111; 64. Charlie Dalton (Cuy. Heights) 116; 65. Hunter Schuck (Hillsdale) 118; 66. Ty Lantz (Hillsdale) 121, Gavin Hammonds (Lake Ridge Acad.) 121; 68. Andrew Domzalski (Cuy. Heights) 123; 69. Lucas Norton (Lake Ridge Acad.) 126; 70. Will Archer (Cornerstone Christian) 127; 71. Edgar Moore (Lake Ridge Acad.) 134; 72. Vincent Scalesi (Hillsdale) 141; 73. Ava Archer (Cornerstone Christian) 144;
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. 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.


    Blue Devils reload for another run at state

    Independence returns plenty of talent from the team that finished fifth at state last season and the Blue Devils hope to make another run.