Golf: Senior leadership key as Hubs return to action

Senior Griffin Ohlinger will enter his fourth season with the Rochelle Hub varsity golf team this fall. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Ohlinger, Harrington headline returning varsity players

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Township High School golf team teed off the 2022 season Tuesday morning, hosting its first practice at Fairways Golf Course. The Hubs, who have several upperclassmen returning, are looking to improve on a winless 2021 campaign.

“I’m excited that we’ll have a lot of senior leadership this season,” head coach Glen Mehrings said. “I’ve been in touch with a lot of the guys throughout the summer and they’ve been playing quite a bit of golf during that time. We’ll have some varsity spots to fill and I know we’ll have some new and returning players who can fill those roles. We have a nice group of kids who are strong and athletic. They have great attitudes and I think they’ll blend well with each other.”

The Hubs will face Dixon and Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at Park Hills Golf Course for their first nonconference match of the season. Rochelle’s home opener will be a nonconference meet against Mendota and Amboy on Thursday, Aug. 25. The Hubs will begin Interstate 8 Conference competition with a road match against the LaSalle-Peru Cavaliers on Tuesday, Aug. 30. 

“We tend to struggle at the beginning of the season because we have a lot of players who’ve only played locally,” Mehrings said. “It can be tough to adapt, but I know a few of our players have been playing tournaments during the summer so I’m hopeful that our short game and our putting will translate over to the other courses. A lot of younger players lose strokes that way and it usually takes a few weeks for the kids to build their confidence around the greens.”

Among Rochelle’s returning varsity players are seniors Griffin Ohlinger and Damen Harrington, who played out of the No. 1 and No. 2 varsity slots last season. Senior Wade Smith earned varsity experience last season, while freshman Ian Metzger, who won at the Ogle County Junior Open earlier this summer, could make an immediate impact for the varsity team. The Hubs will have two newcomers in the mix including senior David Wanner and junior Parker Lenkaitis.

“Griffin and Damen playing strong will be huge for us,” Mehrings said. “I’d like to see us shoot between 160 and 170 this season. We struggled to shoot scores close to that range last season, but we can be competitive in nearly all of our matches this season if we can score in that range… We don’t have many home matches so it’ll be important for us to play well on the road at our tournaments and in the conference. I’d like for us to finish with a winning record.”