AHS freshman becomes first state girls qualifier since 2009

Published 5:38 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

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Austin freshman Ailani Thiravong has already been part of a major turnaround on the greens for the Packer girls golf team and now she’ll be the first Austin girls golfer to play in a state meet since 2009.

Thiravong will play in the Class AAA girls meet at Bunker Hills on June 11 and June 12. The girls will begin play at noon on both days.

Thiravong played her best golf on the first day of the Section 1AAA Meet, but she knows she could’ve had a better second day as she is focused on improving when she takes on top competition at state next week.

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“I was a little bit disappointed in the mental aspect of my game on the second day (at sections). I should’ve been able to get my shots on the green and make those two putts and not try to do anything fancy. Overall, I took fifth at sections and I’m pretty excited,” Thiravong said.

Thiravong is looking to control the things that she can next week at state as she knows it will be the ultimate mental test.

“I would love to shoot in the 70s, but I’m focusing more on my mentality and I’m going to not give up on myself,” Thiravong said. “Maybe I won’t play my best, but I want my shots to be consistent and keep my mentality strong.”

Thiravong played for the Metro Rockford All-Stars team at state when she was living in Illinois and now she’ll be competing in her first Minnesota State High School League state meet. She is no stranger to big meets as she made cuts in 16 of the 18 summer tournaments she played in Minnesota last summer.

“I’m focusing on my own game and trying to play to the best of my abilities to showcase what I can do,” she said. “As a young golfer, I’ve played in a lot of big tournaments. I’m not as nervous going into  this.”

The Packer girls team had a big season this year as they set a school record score of 339. Thiravong will likely have some of those teammates supporting her at state and she said that will make a big difference.

“Having them will give me a lot of confidence. Everybody on our team improved this year. Sydney (Lewis), Lucy (Annis) and Izzy (Sellers) were shooting in the 80s and Gracie (Greenman) and Reagan (Harty) were touching those 90s,” Thiravong said. “I’m very proud of the direction our team is heading in.”

While golf is an individual sport with a team aspect, Thiravong is always thankful for those who have helped her get to where she is.

“I would like to thank my parents, Mr. (Dave) Brown, my teammates and the community, especially my teachers,” Thiravong said. “They all support me and give me that confidence that lets me play to the best of my abilities.”