by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Hudson -- In the history of the Hudson Junior Invitational, few finishes will be as dramatic as the finish to the 2014 boys' title.
The scenario: Barberton resident and recent Walsh Jesuit graduate Chase Johnson had just birdied the par-4 17th hole, putting him in a tie with Toledo resident John Mancinotti.
With Johnson and Mancinotti in the final trio, the par-5, 559-yard 18th hole basically became a one-hole playoff for the title.
Mancinotti seized the opportunity, draining an 8-foot birdie putt to secure a round of 72 and the boys title June 12 at The Country Club of Hudson.
Mancinotti, a rising senior at Toledo St. John's Jesuit, scored the only under-par score of the tournament, male or female. Mancinotti finished with a 1-under-par score of 215 (68-75-72), one stroke ahead of Johnson, who shot 74 for the day and even-par 216 (72-76-71) for the tournament.
In the girls tournament, Youngstown resident Jacinta Pikunas won the tournament with an even-par score of 216 (74-68-74). She finished four strokes ahead of runner-up Nikolette Schroeder of Avon Lake (220/75-74-71).
"It's really a great honor to be among all those great names that have won here," Mancinotti said. "This is a wonderful tournament."
Mancinotti admitted he felt the pressure was on him heading into the final hole.
"Chase had the momentum, I think, after he made that birdie," Mancinotti said. "I knew a birdie was going to win it. I hit a great wedge shot to about eight feet out and was able to hit it."
The end was bittersweet for Johnson, who finished as runner-up at the Junior for the third consecutive year.
"For the fourth day in a row, I played great from tee to green," Johnson said. "I just couldn't make a freaking putt. [Hole No.] 18 failed me all week. It's a birdie hole and I got par all three days.
"I put myself in contention in all three of the tournaments I play and these have been tough fields," Johnson added. "There's always going to be a sour taste in my mouth, though."
Johnson wasn't the only local boy to play well as numerous local golfers earned top-20 finishes.
Hudson resident Will Kurtz tied for 11th place with Tallmadge's Zach Mosholder and Medina's Spencer Koch with an 8-over score of 224.
Only a sophomore, Kurtz (78-71-75) said he planned to be back.
"I just didn't make a lot of putts," Kurtz said. "I just want to keep improving and eventually try win one of these."
Meanwhile. Mosholder improved his score every day (79-73-72). The Junior was one of his final tournaments before joining the Ashland University team in August.
"I'm pretty happy with the way I played," Mosholder said. "My goal was definitely top 10. This a great tournament."
Hudson resident Dave Sexton (80-74-73) and Twinsburg resident Matt McAdoo (79-76-72) were part of a five-man group tied for 20th (227).
"I feel a lot more pressure in that this is my home course, but it was really fun," Sexton said.
"It's good to have a tournament like this 10 minutes from my house," McAdoo said.
"Walking off the 18th green, I'm not happy because I felt I left some putts out there. Give me 15 minutes and I'll be happy with even par."
PiKUNAS WINS GIRLS TITLE BY FOUR STROKES
In retrospect, Pikunas won the title on the strength of her second-round performance June 11.
Pikunas shot a four-under-par 68 June 11, which was the low round of the tournament for a girl.
"I wasn't sure I was going to win it," Pikunas said. "My goal was to try to birdie 18 because on the front nine, I was struggling a bit."
Indeed, Pikunas needed her four-stroke cushion as she bogied five of the first seven holes June 12.
However, she rebounded by scoring birdies on the ninth, 10th and 18th holes to secure the win.
It was a windy day June 12, which led to higher scores.
Schroeder took second, thanks to a 1-under-par round of 71. It was one of only two under par rounds by girls on the day.
Kent was well-represented in the final trio June 12.
Madison Mullins, a Sandusky native and rising sophomore at Kent State University, finished in third place with score of 221 (74-75-74).
Meanwhile, Kent Roosevelt sophomore Kory Nielsen finished fourth with a score of 223 (74-75-74).
"I know both of them [Pikunas and Mullins] pretty well, so that helped," Nielsen said. "I think I did OK. It gives me something to shoot for going forward."
All three Neilsen sisters competed in the tournament.
Kasey Nielsen finished tied for 11th with score of 234 (78-82-74), while Kelly Nielsen finished 27th with a score of 244 (86-78-80).