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After a series of tournaments throughout May and June, the Northern Ohio PGA invited the best junior golfers to the NOPGA Section Championship at Shady Hollow Country Club in Massillon on Monday for day one of the two-day event.
On the line is an invitational to the PGA National Junior Championship.
Following the first 18 holes, juniors age 13 to 18 are ready to make their final push to the championship today.
GIRLS 13 TO 18
Jacinta Pikunas of Youngstown is in the lead after a sparkling round of 68, 4-under-par, on the long fairways of Shady Hollow.
But waiting in the wings to make her move is Kory Nielsen of Kent.
The Kent Roosevelt graduate, heading to Kent State to play with her sisters Kasey and Kelly in the fall, had her own solid round of 71 (1-under-par).
That distances Nielsen from the rest of the field by four strokes and puts her within striking distance of Pikunas, a recent Boardman High School graduate, who will play for another MAC school: The University of Akron.
Both girls are seeking the opportunity to play at the National Junior PGA Championship July 18-20 at The Country Club at St. Albans in Missouri.
The two girls, who have competed together and against each other during their high-school careers, will tee off the first hole at Shady Hollow today.
BOYS 13 TO 18
Ken Keller -- a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School headed to play for the Youngstown State University Penguins in the fall -- set himself from the field in the Northern Ohio PGA Junior PGA Championship.
Going into the final 18 holes, Keller fired a 67, 5-under-par, which is six strokes better than Youngstown golfers Cole Christman and Brian Terlesky.
Will Kurtz, a Hudson High School graduate headed to Kent State University as a member of the Golden Flashes in the fall, is in a tie for fourth place, carding a steady round of 74 and in a position to climb the leaderboard.
Other locals in the tournament include Austin Goodwill, a senior at Field High School, in a tie for 38th place, scoring an 85 on the tough fairways of Shady Hollow.
The boys have one final 18-hole round to find out who will represent the NOPGA at the National Junior PGA Championship.