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Gerken began early, then kept going

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Lanie Gerken burst onto the north country sports scene in 1978 when she won the Watertown City Women's Golf Tournament.


At just 15 years of age, her 9-and-8 victory over Rosalie Harris at Ives Hill Country Club made Gerken the youngest champion in the history of the city tournament.


She was just getting started.


Gerken followed up that victory with seven more city crowns in consecutive years up to 1985.


After her first city triumph in '78, Gerken nearly brought home a state title. She made it to the final of the 16th Annual New York State Junior Girls Championship at Ives Hill, falling 4 and 3 to Lise Ann Russell of New City.


Gerken, though, remained dominant locally for several years; in 1981, she won the city title by 20 strokes over Sharon Hughes.


Gerken, a 1981 graduate of Watertown High School, went on to attend Longwood College in Farmville, Va., eventually becoming one of the school's most successful golfers.


As a senior in 1985, she became the fifth player in Longwood history to achieve first-team All-America status.


Gerken turned professional in 1987 and has since competed in various tournaments around the United States, Canada and Asia.


She attempted to earn an LPGA Tour membership card eight times, coming within just one stroke of qualifying on two of those occasions.


She won the 1993 Canadian Professional Golfers' Association Women's Championship, but the highlight of her career came in 1995 when she competed in the U.S. Women's Open at Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo. She played in two rounds before missing the cut.


Gerken, who married Jim Cahill in 1989, also played in the 1999 du Maurier Classic and the 2001 and 2002 LPGA Bank of Montreal Canadian Women's Open tournaments.


She appeared in 39 events on the FUTURES Tour between 1994 and 2003. Her best finish in those events was a tie for fifth at the 1997 Loretto FUTURES Golf Classic in East Syracuse.


Gerken served as the head pro at Brockville Country Club from 1997-2001 and has been the club's teaching pro since 2005.


Besides golf, Gerken also played field hockey at WHS, and was an avid skier. In 1976, she placed third in the Eastern Regional girls giant slalom championship at Mount Tecumseh near Waterville Valley, N.H.


Jim Cahill died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gehrig's disease — at age 43 in 2005.


Lanie Cahill, 46, continues to compete professionally in Canada. She played in two CN Tour events this year.

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