BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Olivia Bailey Ava Thomas
Olivia Bailey and Ava Thomas are the unassuming assassins.
They are not the most physically imposing golfers, and both are humble and always pushing to get better.
If you turn your head to watch another golfer and you hear they are doing “fine,” it means they are probably doing fantastically well.
They are Rochester’s Nos. 1 and 2 golfers, and they are best friends, and they are our RTC Girls Golfers of the Year.
They are analytical in their approach, and then they can get their bodies to do what they see in their minds’ eyes. That is a rare thing in golf, but they can do it.
They have also helped Rochester become a force in the girls golf community.
Battling against schools many times their size like Penn, Chesterton, Lake Central and Valparaiso, they nearly lifted the Rochester team to state.
And after both finished in the top 60 in the state finals, they will both be back next year.
Meanwhile, a special shout-out goes to Bianca Huizar, the Winamac sectional medalist who herself came achingly close to joining Bailey and Thomas at state.
Olivia Bailey (Rochester) (RTC Co-Player of the Year) – Bailey became Rochester’s first regional medalist when she won at Sandy Pines this year. She crushes the ball off the tee, and no par-5 is safe with her around. She finished 26th at the state finals.
Ava Thomas (Rochester) (RTC Co-Player of the Year) – Thomas does not hit it quite as far off the tee as Bailey, but her iron shots from the fairway always land where they need to, and she always gives herself makeable putts.
Bianca Huizar (Winamac) – As a freshman, Huizar was new to golf. By the time she was a senior, Huizar was the Hoosier North medalist and by far the best player in the conference. Then she won a tense three-way playoff against Bailey and Kankakee Valley star Brynlee DeBoard to win the sectional. Then she shot a 78 at the very difficult Sandy Pines Golf Club at the regional before her state pursuit ended in a sudden death playoff.
Mia McKaig (Pioneer) – McKaig is a sophomore who only took up golf last year, but her passion for the game and work ethic is obvious when you see her play, and she qualified for the regional for the first time.
Payton Moore (Rochester) – Moore, a senior, was an all-conference player and team leader who also played with power and precision. There were only five better players in the TRC, but it just so happened that two of them were her teammates.
Olivia Link (Winamac)
Maggie Smith (Winamac)
Lexi Haughs (Rochester)
Sierra Haschel (Winamac)
Jullina Sherrick (Caston)