DIXON — Thursday evening marked nearly two years since the Rochelle Township High School golf program last brought home a varsity victory. That winless drought came to an abrupt end at Lost Nation Golf Club, where the Hubs swept their triangular match against Dixon and Freeport to reach 2-1 after opening the 2019 season with their Interstate Eight Conference debut against Ottawa on Wednesday.
Rochelle’s returning players carried the scoring load, as junior Megan Thiravong carded a team-low 41 while junior Reese Kirk added 45. Freshman Griffin Ohlinger was the difference maker, however, scoring 52 in his varsity debut to help Rochelle finish with a four-low score of 195. Freeport took second with 206 while Dixon placed third with 236.
“I’m looking forward to improving over the next four years and I’m looking forward to helping our team improve,” Ohlinger said. “I thought I played pretty well today but there are a lot of areas I can improve including my putting and my chipping. I think I can cut about five strokes away and help out the team if I can improve on those things.”
Sophomore Shepard Hayes carded 57 to round out the top four scores for Rochelle on Thursday. The victories were Rochelle’s first since the Hubs defeated LaSalle-Peru in Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference play at Fairways Golf Course in September 2017.
“It feels really good to win today,” Ohlinger said. “It was an accomplishment for me because I had never played in a high school golf match before and this was my first varsity match. So far, I think we’ve played really well as a team.”
The Hubs teed off their season on the road Wednesday, when Rochelle faced a tough Ottawa squad in the rain and fell by a score of 159-219 at Senica’s Deer Park Golf Club in Oglesby. Thiravong paced the Hubs with a team-low 42 while Kirk shot 50 and Hayes totaled 59. Ohlinger led the junior varsity squad with Rochelle’s third-lowest score of 52.
“I thought the course played pretty well,” Ohlinger said. “The rain came in and slowed the greens down which helped me shorten my putts.”