Golf: Thiravong wins second straight Interstate 8 Championship

Rochelle senior Megan Thiravong accepts her first-place medal after winning the Interstate 8 Conference Girls Golf Championship on Tuesday. (Courtesy photo)

Hubs finish seventh in boys tournament at Bliss Creek

SYCAMORE — As her illustrious high school career comes to a close, Rochelle senior Megan Thiravong added another historic achievement to her resume Tuesday afternoon, when she outperformed 44 other players and successfully defended her conference title during the Interstate 8 Girls Championship at the Sycamore Park District Golf Club.

Having competed against the Sycamore Spartans this past week, Thiravong was prepared to handle the course layout despite the cold and damp weather conditions. The Lady Hub standout stayed even through her first seven holes Tuesday, shooting 39 over her first nine holes before cooling off with 41 on her last nine to finish the tournament in first place with 80. Thiravong won the title by three strokes over Plano’s Faith Mallory, who took second with 83.

“I dedicate this win to Mr. [Chris] Lewis, Mr. [John] Pfaff and Mr. [Duncan] Powers for encouraging me prior to the tournament,” Thiravong said. “They gave me the motivation I needed to win the conference championship for the second year in a row… I knew where to hit the ball in order to score well on the front nine and stay ahead of the competition.”

With her victory, Thiravong became the first female player in Rochelle Township High School history to win back-to-back conference titles. She became the first Lady Hub to win a conference championship in 2019, when she took first at Fairways Golf Course in Rochelle. Thiravong said her preparation and mid-round strategy propelled her to victory on Tuesday.

“Because the weather was cold and damp, the ball wouldn’t roll or fly as far as it usually would in a fair atmosphere,” Thiravong said. “I often had to deal with a ball covered in layers of mud in the fairway and on the green. I played strategically by hitting the ball harder with a larger club hoping to peel off some of the dirt caked on the ball. I also prepared for the inclement weather by bringing rain gear, an extra sweatshirt and thermal wear to stay warm and dry.”

Freshman Alivia Henkel also competed in the conference championship Tuesday, shooting 120 in the 18-hole tournament. Thiravong and her Rochelle teammates will now gear up for the IHSA State Series events, which tee off next week. The Hubs are scheduled to compete in the IHSA 2A Sterling Regional at Emerald Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 6 while Thiravong will represent Rochelle in the IHSA 1A Oregon Regional at Silver Ridge on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

“Almost all of my drives were in the fairway on Tuesday, and a majority of my chip shots rolled within 3 feet of the hole,” Thiravong said. “I will be working on my accuracy with shorter irons in preparation for the regional and the sectional. Birdies are crucial to win any competition, so my putting will need some sharpening to score lower and put pressure on other players.”

Varsity Boys

Rochelle finished seventh out of eight teams with 378 during the Interstate 8 Boys Championship at Bliss Creek on Monday. Sophomore Griffin Ohlinger placed 15th in the conference standings with 85 points to earn an All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Ohlinger led the Hubs with 91 in the 18-hole tournament, while seniors Dominic Williams and Reese Kirk followed with 93 and 95, respectively. Sophomore Damen Harrington carded 99 to round out Rochelle’s top four varsity players on Monday.

JV Boys

The Rochelle JV golf team placed seventh in the Interstate 8 Conference Championship at Edgebrook Golf Course in Sandwich. The Hubs carded 516, with sophomore Wade Smith shooting 113, including 50 on the back nine, to lead Rochelle in the tournament.

Junior Levi Lawhorn added 125, while freshmen Cale Workman and Dylan Whaley chipped in 130 and 148, respectively. Junior Rowan Williams had 158.

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