- Val T.
Your Bailey affirmation: Freshman’s 84, Moore’s 86 help Rochester advance to regional
Thomas adds 89 for Lady Zs; Pioneer shoots 401, Caston has incomplete team
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
MONTICELLO — Rochester’s Ava Thomas qualified for the girls golf regional as an individual last year as a freshman.
She is going back this year and taking the rest of her teammates with her.
Rochester shot a 364 and finished second out of 10 complete teams at the Twin Lakes sectional at Tippecanoe Country Club to advance to the regional.Kankakee Valley won the sectional with a 357. Logansport shot a 366 to finish third and also advanced.
Freshman Olivia Bailey shot an 84 to lead the Lady Zs and finish second overall behind Brynlee DeBoard of Kankakee Valley. DeBoard shot a 78 to win sectional medalist honors for the second straight year.
Payton Moore shot an 86 and was third overall. Thomas added an 89, Delaney Barkman had a 105, and Savanah Eccles had a 118.
Rochester was the only team that had three players break 90 on a course with slick greens – Rochester coach Chad Thomas described them as “ticklish” – as moderate humidity with temperatures in the upper 70s buffeted light winds and intermittent clouds.
Bailey, Thomas and Moore also broke 90 at the Three Rivers Conference tournament at Rozella Ford Golf Club in Warsaw on Sept. 10, where they tied for second with Tippecanoe Valley behind Maconaquah.
“It’s awesome that we get to advance,” coach Thomas said. “I knew it was going to be close between us and Logan. The little I knew about Kankakee Valley, I knew that they were a solid team. It was kind of last weekend with TRC. I knew it was going to probably be a few shots here and there, so to come out second place, it feels good. Survive and advance, as they say.”
Rochester advances to the regional as a team for the first time since 2013. That year also marked the last time the Lady Zs made the state finals.
The top three teams in each of 30 sectionals statewide advance to regional.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, but just to know how far our team has come as a whole, I knew we could do it,” Eccles, heading to regional for the first time, said. “So hard work pays off. I’m excited and nervous.”
Moore shot 110 as a freshman at the Warsaw sectional in 2020 and a 97 as a sophomore at the Warsaw sectional in 2021. Now she’s regional-bound for the first time.
She said her driver was so unreliable – she said she was “duffing” her drives – that she left it in the bag on the back nine and stuck with a 6-iron instead. Her score was six strokes better than her score at the Twin Lakes Invitational on the same course on Aug. 6. She said her chipping was “on.”
“I was up and down all the time,” Moore said of the emotions of playing in a sectional. “You move on, but in my case, I eat a hot dog and then I’m ready to go for the next couple holes. You just have to move on. It doesn't matter what you just shot because you can triple (bogey) and then you can come back and birdie one.”
Bailey blasted tee shots down the fairway, often longer than her playing partners from Logansport and Kankakee Valley. She occasionally sprayed approach shots to the right; however, she would typically recover with precise chips that would leave her with makeable putts. Her round included a birdie on hole No. 3, a par-3, and several par saves.
She played holes Nos. 13, 14 and 17, all dogleg par-5s, in a combined 1-over-par.
“Her short game saved her a few times, and overall, I don’t think we hit the ball very well,” Thomas said. “I know Olivia hit some shots she’s not used to. I know Ava wasn’t striking the ball solid like she’s wanting, and of course Payton … It just goes to show if you’re not striking the ball well but your short game is solid, it can save you. So that was a good example of that today.”
Among other area teams, Pioneer shot a 401 and finished sixth while Caston had an incomplete team.
Ashlynn Brooke led Pioneer with a 96, Mia McKaig had a 100, Emilie Schmaltz had a 101, Meisha Price had a 104, and Kortnee Kline had a 126.
Shaylee Strasser led the three-person team from Caston with a 136. Jullina Sherrick had a 138, and Anselma Ramirez had a 138. Caston was competing in a sectional for the first time since 2018.
Lake Central will host the regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte Saturday. This is a newly added regional as the state has expanded the tournament format from five regionals to six. Eighteen teams will make the state finals instead of 15 as in previous years, but only the top two individuals on non-advancing teams will advance, not the top five.
Of the 15 teams that will be at Sandy Pines, Rochester has the smallest enrollment.
Start time is 9 a.m. Eastern, and the first Rochester players will tee off at 10:20 a.m.
“I feel like golf, you bring a bigger bond,” Eccles said. “It’s like we’re a lot closer with each other, and there is honestly, less – I guess you could say – drama. And we all just click together.”
Twin Lakes sectional
at Tippecanoe Country Club, Monticello (par 72)
Kankakee Valley 357, Rochester 364, Logansport 366, Twin Lakes 384, Rensselaer 385, Pioneer 401, Winamac 425, North Newton 437, Tri-County 455, DeMotte Christian 483, Caston (incomplete team), South Newton (incomplete team)
KANKAKEE VALLEY (357): DeBoard 78, Van Loon 88, Rushmore 94, Lukasik 97, (Rondeau 100)
ROCHESTER (364): Olivia Bailey (42-42) 84, Payton Moore (44-42) 86, Ava Thomas (45-44) 89, Delaney Barkman (55-50) 105, (Savanah Eccles (57-61) 118)
LOGANSPORT (366): Weaver 87, Crook 90, Moon 94, Kay 95, (Sutton 98)
TWIN LAKES (384): Kyser 92, Stearns 92, Edgell 99, Hornung 101, (Grennes 108)
RENSSELAER (385): Drone 92, Minter 94, Hooker 99, Graf 100, (Maienbrook 101)
PIONEER (401): Ashlynn Brooke (50-46) 96, Mia McKaig (49-51) 100, Emile Schmaltz (46-55) 101, Meisha Price (53-51) 104, (Kortnee Kline (64-62) 126)
WINAMAC (425): Bianca Huizar 89, Olivia Link 98, Maggie Smith 115, Sierra Haschel 123, (Grace Wenzler 138)
NORTH NEWTON (437): Arrenholz 89, Knight 107, Jeka 113, Wagoner 128, (Walsh 129)
TRI-COUNTY (455): Culp 110, Douglass 110, Tyler 112, Misch 123
DEMOTTE CHRISTIAN (483): DeVries 118, Hensler 120, Lundy 120, Kingma 125, (Musch 130)
CASTON: Shaylee Strasser 136, Jullina Sherrick 138, Anselma Ramirez 138
SOUTH NEWTON: Thomas 107, Small 122, Torani 131
Medalist: Brynlee DeBoard (Kankakee Valley) – 78
The Rochester girls golf team shot a 364 and finished second out of 10 complete teams at the Twin Lakes sectional at Tippecanoe Country Club in Monticello Monday. They advance to the regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte Saturday. The first Rochester players will tee off at 10:20 a.m. Eastern Saturday. From left – coach Chad Thomas, Olivia Bailey, Ava Thomas, Payton Moore, Delaney Barkman, Savanah Eccles, assistant coach Dan Bailey.