ELBURN — After a tough conference match on Wednesday, the Rochelle Township High School golf team played arguably its strongest opponent of the season Thursday afternoon, when the Hubs collided with the defending Interstate 8 champion Kaneland Knights at Hughes Creek.
The Knights showed why they’re the team to beat this fall, as their top four players recorded rounds in either the low 40s or the upper 30s. Ryan Milton led the field with 37 and Cody Ganzon totaled 40 to lead Kaneland over Rochelle 163-186. The Hubs hung tough, however, with sophomore Griffin Ohlinger carding 41 and senior Megan Thiravong adding 42.
“We had no seniors last season and we’ve returned all of our varsity players,” head coach Glen Mehrings said. “We were a pretty young team last season, but we have some seniors now who have anchored our team over the last two years. We’re getting contributions from our young players like Griffin, and we’re continuing to work toward scoring in the 170 range.”
The match closed out a busy opening week for the Hubs (2-2, 0-2 Interstate 8), who have scored in the 180s in each of their first two conference meets, far surpassing their conference average of 199.4 during the 2019 season. Much of that success has stemmed from consistent scores from Rochelle’s top three players including Thiravong, Ohlinger and senior Reese Kirk, who carded 47 for the Hubs after shooting 43 against the Ottawa Pirates on Wednesday.
“We’ve played about as well as we could over these first few meets,” Mehrings said. “I know we can shave a few more strokes off our team score with better plays around the greens, which we can iron out with more practice. I think we’ll be much more competitive if we can score in the 170s, and I know the kids want to compete and be in every match they play.”
Hughes Creek provided a nice change of scenery for the Hubs, who played Wednesday’s match at Fairways in Rochelle. With larger and faster greens leaving more room for error on iron shots, players managed to take advantage and keep their scores competitive throughout the round. Junior Brett Ferguson’s 56 was the fourth varsity tally for the Hubs on Thursday.
“If we can get out score down to 170, then we can have a chance to beat some really quality teams,” Mehrings said. “We knew this course would be a little tougher for our kids since it’s a new sight for them, but it’s a well-maintained course with big and fast greens. It was nice for the kids to have the chance to play on these sorts of greens because these are the kinds of greens they’ll see at some of the nicer courses they’ll play as the season progresses.”