Golf: Hubs shooting to bounce back from winless season

Sectional qualifier Ohlinger highlights eligible returning players

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ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity golf team saw its share of struggles this season. Without four-time state qualifier Megan Thiravong to lead the way, Rochelle was unable to score low enough to compete with its Interstate 8 Conference opponents. But with only one senior departing this season, head coach Glen Mehrings said he’s optimistic for next season.

“Losing our top two seniors from last season and a few players who didn’t come out this season, our numbers were down,” Mehrings said. “It was tough to only have seven players, but it was a great group of kids to work with and we played a lot of competitive rounds in practice to keep the kids engaged because they don’t play a lot of offseason tournaments… It’s tough to get going at the start of the season when the kids aren’t dedicating a lot of time to golf.”

The Hubs went winless for the second time in four seasons, finishing 0-13 overall and taking eighth place in the Interstate 8 Conference. Rochelle placed eighth in the IHSA 2A Sandwich Regional behind junior Griffin Ohlinger, who became a one-time sectional qualifier and a two-time Interstate 8 All-Conference Honorable Mention this season. Ohlinger was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and senior Rowan Williams was the Most Improved Player.

“Griffin was our low man in every match we had,” Mehrings said. “Griffin welcomed playing out of our No. 1 spot and he didn’t shy away from competing against the best players on the opposing team. Griffin scored really well for us and he led our team in birdies… Rowan stuck it out over the last four years and we talked at our banquet about how much his swing improved. His interest never waned and he never quit on himself. He always had a good attitude.”

Williams will be the only senior leaving the team this season. Rochelle will have three juniors including Ohlinger, Damen Harrington and Wade Smith who are eligible to return next season. Sophomore Cale Workman and freshmen Breydan Andrews and Jacob Ost could also return.

“It’s like shooting free throws in the driveway as opposed to playing in the fourth quarter,” Mehrings said. “Our kids can get better playing on their own, but playing in offseason tournaments will help them compete and overcome the nervous energy they experience during the season. I think our kids know they need to dedicate more time to golf and put in more work next summer. We don’t want any of our kids to end their high school careers on a sour note.”