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  • Val T.

Huizar the world: Winamac senior wins sectional medalist in playoff

Rochester finishes 2nd behind Bailey’s 79, advances to regional as team; Pioneer sophomore McKaig also advances


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Winamac girls golf coach Jeremy Shell, left, and Bianca Huizar celebrate following Huizar earning sectional medalist honors with a 79 at Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello Monday. Huizar beat Kankakee Valley’s Brynlee DeBoard and Rochester’s Olivia Bailey in a sudden death playoff for the title. Huizar will next play at the Lake Central regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte on Saturday.

MONTICELLO — Winamac senior Bianca Huizar had never played golf before starting three years ago as a freshman.

After a summer taking lessons at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel before her sophomore year and a summer refining her game prior to this year, her hard work got its biggest reward yet when she won medalist honors at the Twin Lakes sectional at Tippecanoe Country Club Monday.

Huizar parred the second hole of a sudden death playoff while Kankakee Valley’s Brynlee DeBoard bogeyed. Rochester’s Olivia Bailey also reached the playoff, but she was eliminated after the first playoff hole.

Huizar, DeBoard and Bailey each shot a 79 during regulation play.

Bailey and the Lady Zs were the only RTC area team to advance to the regional. Kankakee Valley won the team title with a 333, Rochester was second with a 350, and Logansport was third with a 374.

In addition to Bailey’s score, Ava Thomas had an 84, Payton Moore had an 89, Lexi Haughs had a 98, and Ella McCarter had a 106. Both Haughs and McCarter had lifetime best scores for 18 holes.

Rochester’s score was a 14-stroke improvement from the 2022 sectional, which they also finished second and which was also held at Tippecanoe Country Club.

“I’m pleased with the score,” Rochester coach Chad Thomas said. “I think we still can do better, but definitely a nice improvement from last year.”


The Rochester girls golf team shot a 350 at the Twin Lakes sectional at Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello Monday. They finished in second place out of 11 complete teams and advanced to the regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte Saturday. From left – Olivia Bailey, Lexi Haughs, Payton Moore, Ella McCarter, Ava Thomas


Huizar, Rensselaer’s Carly Drone (83) and Pioneer’s Mia McKaig (88) had the three lowest scores among individuals on non-advancing teams, and they also advanced to the regional.

Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte will host the regional at 9 a.m. Eastern Saturday.

Other RTC area teams included Winamac, who shot a 385 and finished fifth; Pioneer, who shot a 469 and finished ninth; and Caston, who had an incomplete team.

In addition to Huizar’s score, Olivia Link had a 95, Maggie Smith had a 100, Sierra Haschel had a 111, and Ashlynn Jennings had a 112.

In addition to McKaig’s score, Kendra Hanson shot a 126, Brenner McLain had a 127, Addison Nethercutt had a 128, and Baylee Rowan had a 131.

Jullina Sherrick

Jullina Sherrick was Caston’s low scorer with a 129, Ava Sylvain had a 137, and Savannah Zimmerman had a 139.

Bailey received some lip service – or perhaps more accurately stated, lip disservice – on No. 1, the first playoff hole. Her tee shot went right down the middle of the fairway but landed on a cart path, which entitled her to a free drop. After the drop, her wedge approach shot came near the green before falling off and landing on the collar, an area of rough between the bunker and the green and forcing her to take an awkward stance.

Her third shot was within six feet for par. Huizar and DeBoard had tap-ins for their pars.

Bailey’s par putt then hit the lip of the cup and rimmed out. Her day was over.

Olivia Bailey

“I’m happy with how I played, but I’m a little upset that I wasn’t able to come back with a win in the playoff,” Bailey said. “My first shot was really good. I hit it well, and then my second shot, I just stopped turning through it and pulled it a little bit into the rough. … The putt, I hit it well. I rimmed it. So it is what it is. … It was definitely an experience, but I was glad I got to be a part of it.”

Huizar hit her tee shot on the No. 2, a par-5 which was the second playoff hole, farther than DeBoard’s but into the second cut on the right. DeBoard found a bunker on the left.

Huizar’s second shot made the fairway and left her with a 50-yard approach shot. DeBoard’s second went into the second cut, and her third was low and stayed in the rough. Her fourth went beyond the green.

Huizar chipped to within 12 feet.

DeBoard’s fourth went 10 feet past the hole.

Huizar needed two putts for the win.

Her first putt got close, and after she put an 18-inch tap-in for par, her teammates came out to mob her.

Huizar was not in the last group of the day and estimated that she waited two hours in the clubhouse between her last shot in her regulation round and the start of the playoff. Meanwhile, DeBoard and Bailey were playing partners in the last group of the day, and Huizar was concerned that they would be more ready.

“I was already thinking about going home,” a smiling Huizar said.

Huizar said she knows DeBoard, a 2022 state qualifier, well from previous tournaments. She said this was the first time she had even come close to beating her. She called DeBoard “a great opponent who keeps me working.”

She said coach Jeremy Shell encouraged her to stay aggressive. She called it her “go-big-or-go-home moment.” Whether she won the playoff or not, she knew she was going to advance, so she had nothing to lose.

“Just full sent, anything that we did,” Huizar said.

Huizar later reflected on her journey. She said she improved her average score by 10 strokes from last year. She said she wants to play golf in college. She credited Brad Fellers at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel and Justin Holt with teaching her the game.

“It feels so good,” Huizar said. “I’ve put so much effort into the season and so much effort into all the meets this year and just practicing day after day, and it just feels so good to finally pull it all together.”

McKaig was emotional about her accomplishment. She qualified for the regional barely over a year after first learning the game. A sophomore, she is the only Pioneer player with previous varsity experience.

She was paired with Huizar during her round and had a similarly long wait after her round was over before she knew her score would be good enough. If Rensselaer No. 1 player Magdeline Hooker had shot a 91 or better, McKaig would have been eliminated. Hooker wound up shooting a 92, and McKaig gets to golf again.

“It was very stressful,” McKaig said. “It feels good now. It’s kind of overwhelming actually. … I thought I wasn’t going to make it actually. I hit a few shots that didn’t go my way, but I worked on anyway, and I thank God for that.

“I’ve had some really bad rounds and some bad days, but this was a good one, and I’m just glad it came today.”

Twin Lakes sectional

at Tippecanoe Country Club, Monticello, Monday (par 72)

Kankakee Valley 333, Rochester 350, Logansport 374, Rensselaer 375, Winamac 385, Twin Lakes 388, DeMotte Christian 424, Tri-County 448, Pioneer 469, North Newton 481, South Newton 557, Caston (incomplete team)

KANKAKEE VALLEY (333): DeBoard 79, Van Loon 82, Rushmore 84, Bakker 88, (Rondeau 88)

ROCHESTER (350): Olivia Bailey (38-41) 79, Ava Thomas (41-43) 84, Payton Moore (47-42) 89, Lexi Haughs (50-48) 98, Ella McCarter (50-56) 106

LOGANSPORT (374): Lundy 85, Kay 87, Barber 100, Graham 102, (Bradbury 124)

RENSSELAER (375): Drone 83, Hooker 92, Graf 96, Minter 104, (Maienbrook 106)

WINAMAC (385): Bianca Huizar (41-38) 79, Olivia Link (44-51) 95, Maggie Smith (47-53) 100, Sierra Haschel (53-58) 111, (Ashlynn Jennings (54-58) 112)

TWIN LAKES (388): Stearns 91, Edgell 95, Morris 100, Kaufmann 102, (Kyser 104)

DEMOTTE CHRISTIAN (424): DeVries 94, Hensler 105, Myers 105, Lundy 120, (Musch 130)

TRI-COUNTY (448): Tyler 95, Douglas 112, Misch 118, Ewen 123, (Northup 125)

PIONEER (469): Mia McKaig (42-46) 88, Kendra Hanson (60-66) 126, Brenner McLain (64-63) 127, Addison Nethercutt (64-64) 128, (Baylee Rowan (63-68) 131)

NORTH NEWTON (481): Wagoner 116, Galvan 117, Walsh 123, Knight 125, (Jeka 126)

SOUTH NEWTON (557): Wright 137, Kelsey Serrat 139, Villegas 140, Kiley Serrat 141

CASTON: Jullina Sherrick (65-64) 129, Ava Sylvain (68-69) 137, Savannah Zimmerman (65-74) 139

Top three individuals on non-advancing teams: 1. Bianca Huizar (Winamac) – 79, 2. Carly Drone (Rensselaer) – 83, 3. Mia McKaig (Pioneer) – 88

Medalist: Bianca Huizar (Winamac) (won on second playoff hole)


Rochester freshman Lexi Haughs putts on No. 18 at the Twin Lakes sectional at Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello Monday. Haughs shot a 98, a lifetime best for 18 holes, and helped Rochester finish in second place with a 350.


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