Curtice’s Payton Donnelly top player again

J. Patrick Eaken

St. Ursula junior Payton Donnelly, a Curtice resident, repeated as the medalist at the Three Rivers Athletic Conference golf meet, and now she is looking for bigger and better things.

So is her team.

At the league tournament, Donnelly shot an 81 and her team a 338 to win the league title. Notre Dame (350) was second followed by Findlay, Clay, Whitmer and Fremont Ross. Now, the Arrows are looking ahead to the Division I tournament.

As a freshman at the Division I state tournament, Donnelly was part of an Arrows’ team that finished 10th out of 12 teams. Donnelly shot 91-88—179 to finish 62nd individually out of 72 golfers and her team shot 666. 

St. Ursula coach Jim McGowan says the sky is the limit for Donnelly.

“I think she can go anywhere she wants. She has the power and the distance to play at a very high level,” McGowan said.

Donnelly was hoping to make it to the state meet last year, but fell short, even though she upped her game. Donnelly was also named TRAC Golfer of the Year her sophomore year  after shooting a 76 and her team shot a 331 to win a league tournament championship.

McGowan believes the team should not fail if they want to reach the state tournament.

“Unless we get COVID, we’ll be there for sure. Everybody we have got to beat we’ve played multiple times and they haven’t even been close,” McGowan said.

The reason — Donnelly and her teammates are all that much better, says McGowan.

“Her game has come around in every aspect. She works at it non-stop,” McGowan said. “She is totally committed to the game. She’s a 12-month a year golfer. She practices all the time.”

That includes the winter months, even if she does not head to warmer climate, and even if she has to drive long distances. McGowan says if the weather hits the right temperature in the winter, she head for the golf course to play a round outdoors. She has been playing since she was 5-years-old.

  “She hits some indoor places. We can get her on a lot of places that she can go. We get her out to Quarry Ridge (Ottawa Lake, Mich.) — we meet there once a week in the winter months and it gives her a chance to do that. That is a heck of a drive for her. We’re staying up at The Legacy right now, which is where we practice, which is like 40 minutes home for her.”

McGowan says Donnelly’s athleticism and work ethic puts her over the top.

“I think she can pick any sport at St. Ursula and she would be one of the best players,” McGowan said.

Donnelly’s teammates are from Sylvania or Perrysburg. At the league meet, Averi Cline shot 84, Hannah Chung an 86, and Emma Meyers and Lexie Murphy both shot 87. They took five of the top six spots at the league tournament. It is a group that Donnelly fits into well. 

“She has assumed a nice bond. We have a couple seniors who will graduate, but they provide some leadership,” McGowan said. “Payton is clearly the best player on the team. Our girls play all the time. Any girl who wants to play high school comes to Ursula so they can afford it.”

Myers, Donnelly, Murphy and Chung are first team All-TRAC, the Arrows’ Sophia Antypas is second team and Cline is honorable mention. McGowan and Clay coach Kevin Crosson are TRAC Co-Coaches of the Year.

For Clay, Bekah McVicker and Hannah Berning are HM All-TRAC. At the league meet, Clay’s Jamie Judy shot 94 followed by Berning (95), McVicker (96), Izzy Vriezelaar (105), Kaylee Vasko (105) and Leah Malin (117).



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