Rochester shoots 192, beats incomplete Pioneer team
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
STAR CITY –- Led by Payton Moore’s 45, the Rochester girls golf team shot a 192 and beat an incomplete Pioneer team at Pond View Golf Course Monday.
Ava Thomas added a 47, Kat Rensberger and Delaney Barkman each had a 50, and Savanah Eccles had a 67.
With the graduations of Hoosier North MVP and regional qualifier Hailey Gotshall, fellow all-conference player Kynzie Bullock and honorable mention all-conference player Katelyn Duncan, the Pioneer team consisted of two players: junior newcomer Ashlynn Brooke and junior Emilie Schmaltz.
Brooke shot a 50, and Schmaltz shot a 60.
Reagan Becker led the RHS JV with a 55. Avery Brouyette added a 58, and Emma Bays had a 64.
This was the Lady Zs’ first nine-hole match of the season. They shot a 402 over 18 holes at the Twin Lakes Invitational at Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello Saturday and finished eighth out of 16 teams.
Rochester coach Chad Thomas said the team can play even better.
“192’s not bad, but I think we can be in the 180s,” coach Thomas said. “I saw some holes where we were in good positions, but we didn’t take advantage of good drives or take advantage around the greens working on chipping and putting. It’s not too bad, but I think we can be better.”
The match was played under a heat advisory and in steamy humidity with a heat index over 100.
“The girls seemed pretty comfortable overall,” Thomas said. “I made sure that they all had ice water the whole time. Checked on them several times throughout the round. Nobody seemed to be struggling whatsoever. We had a pretty steady breeze that helped things, and there’s a lot of areas of shade out on this course.”
Rochester lost No. 1 player, TRC medalist and state qualifier Kristianna Lingenfelter to graduation and regional qualifier Karah Lingenfelter to transfer.
But the team returns Moore, Rensberger, Barkman and Eccles. Barkman played in the 2020 TRC tournament while Eccles played in last year’s sectional.
Thomas is a freshman.
“I know several of the girls have put in a lot of time over the summer,” coach Thomas said. “I know Delaney Barkman was out at the golf course multiple times a week and worked very hard on her game and spent a lot of time out there. Kat got out as much as she could. Payton was playing a lot with her family and getting lessons, and Ava played a lot of tournaments over the summer. Reagan Becker put in some time as well over the summer. Hopefully, we’ll see some of that hard work over the summer start to pay off.”
Moore and Rensberger have the most varsity experience of the returnees, but it was Thomas who has played No. 1 so far. Coach Thomas compared Ava Thomas’ background and familiarity with the sport coming into high school to the Lingenfelter sisters.
Four Lingenfelter sisters – Karsten, Kovenant, Kinley and Kristianna – made the state finals a combined total of nine times between 2013 and 2020.
“(It’s) probably just like having just as much experience as one of the Lingenfelters coming in,” coach Thomas said. “She has a lot of tournament experience. Plays in several tournaments throughout the year like the Lingenfelters did. She’s very well versed in all the etiquette as far as that goes. I think she’s starting to understand her game better and knows what she needs to work on. It’s just a matter of going out and executing that and practicing hard.”
This season figures to be longer for the Lady Zs, who had to put a coronavirus-related pause on the season in August of last year. The sectional occurred barely three weeks after they were allowed to start practicing.
Rochester finished fifth at last year’s conference and sectional tournaments. They missed advancing to regional by nine strokes. Coach Thomas said a top three finish at each tournament is a goal.
Having said that, Rochester isn’t the only team that might be improved. Both defending TRC champs Tippecanoe Valley and Maconaquah shot 171 Tuesday, and both set new school records for nine holes.
“Hopefully, we keep improving,” Thomas said. “Top three at TRC and top three at sectionals would definitely be a great season for us with such a young team and a lot of new varsity players.”
at Pond View Golf Course, Star City, Tuesday (back nine, par 35)
ROCHESTER (192): Payton Moore 45, Ava Thomas 47, Kat Rensberger 50, Delaney Barkman 50, (Savanah Eccles 67)
PIONEER: Ashlynn Brooke 50, Emilie Schmaltz 60
ROCHESTER JV: Reagan Becker 55, Avery Brouyette 58, Emma Bays 64